Singaporean returned to help smart nation drive

Mr Arun Kishore, who is based in California in the United States, was selected out of nearly 300 overseas and local applicants under the Smart Nation Fellowship Programme.
Mr Arun Kishore, who is based in California in the United States, was selected out of nearly 300 overseas and local applicants under the Smart Nation Fellowship Programme.ST PHOTO:NIVASH JOYVIN

US-based analyst picked out of 300 applicants under fellowship scheme

YouTube data science product analyst Arun Kishore, 34, is the first overseas Singaporean to answer the call to return home to work on smart nation projects.

Mr Kishore, who is based in California in the United States, was selected out of nearly 300 overseas and local applicants under the Smart Nation Fellowship Programme, which was rolled out in March this year to get all hands on deck for Singapore's ambitious smart nation plans.

During his three-month stint here which ended last month, Mr Kishore helped to standardise the data fields on data.gov.sg, the one-stop venue for both free and chargeable government data. For instance, in the past, the format for the date was both "DDMMYYYY" and "YYYYMMDD". Now it is just "YYYY- MM-DD".

"It may be a small issue, but the lack of a standard format will create big trouble if datasets are to be aggregated," Mr Kishore said.

Standardisation allows datasets from different government agencies to be pulled together for analysis without manual data cleaning.

He also worked on a new way to display graphs and charts - in the form of animated visuals - on data.gov.sg. With the animated visuals, one can easily observe any correlation between, say, the annual age distribution of cars and carbon monoxide emission over 10 years.

Mr Kishore, who studied computer engineering at Nanyang Technological University, has been based overseas since 2007.

His desire to return to Singapore to contribute to its smart nation projects was sparked by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's visit in February to San Franscisco.

He did not meet Mr Lee, but got in touch with the new Government Technology Agency's crack team, dubbed Government Digital Services, from which he learnt about the fellowship. The fellowship is primarily targeted at overseas Singaporeans, but also open to Singaporeans working in the private sector or academia in Singapore.

Said Mr Kishore: "I felt I could contribute. It is an opportunity to provide public service and experience something different, something with a wider impact."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2016, with the headline 'S'porean returned to help smart nation drive'. Print Edition | Subscribe