Crack team to back 'smart nation'

A SMALL crack team of software coders, engineers and project managers will be formed to support the development of new ways for the Government to serve its citizens.

Armed with intelligence gathered from sensors islandwide, the team will help government agencies create new apps and online services, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim. “We must ensure that our e-services offer citizens the most user-friendly and optimally designed experience in a high-tech and seamless smart nation,” he said.

A new centre, the Software Design and Development Centre of Excellence, will harness the data gathered by a network of 1,000 sensors being deployed across Singapore. These include street surveillance cameras and computer chips for monitoring the safety of the elderly in their homes.

With the data at its fingertips, the team will be in a position to support the e-service initiatives of various government agencies.

The aim is to lower costs and raise productivity for the development of these new digital services, said the Infocomm Development Authority, the lead agency for the effort.

The 13,000 sq ft centre will be housed in the Sandcrawler, Lucasfilm’s Singapore campus at Fusionopolis.

Mr Aloysius Cheang, Asia-Pacific managing director of global computing security association Cloud Security Alliance, said: “By aggregating demand from various government agencies, the centre can attract the brightest brains from both the private and public sectors to come together to build e-services for citizens.”

Speaking at his ministry’s annual workplan seminar yesterday, Dr Yaacob said the Government is moving to counteract rising cyberthreats with its new Cyber Security Agency (CSA) launched last week. One key priority of the CSA, which will coordinate public- and private-sector efforts, is to work with the 10 critical sectors – including power, transport and telecommunications – to protect their systems.

But Dr Yaacob added that every citizen needs to play his small but critical part, for instance, by practising good cyber hygiene and safe surfing habits.

As for those unable to plug in to the Internet, Dr Yaacob said the Government has identified 2,400 low-income households that will receive help.

They will receive a tablet and four years of fibre broadband connectivity for $6 a month under a $10 million Digital Inclusion Fund announced a year ago to help poor families go online.

itham@sph.com.sg