Forum: Concerted effort made to expand data available to public

We thank Dr Shannon Ang for his feedback (Address information asymmetry in Singapore, July 20).

The Government is committed to sharing data to facilitate policy co-creation with citizens to build a better Singapore together. However, we need to bear in mind the need to protect data that could be potentially sensitive to the individual, or could undermine Singapore's national interests.

Over the past few years, we have made a concerted effort to expand the volume of publicly available data. Government data sets are made public through open data platforms such as data.gov.sg and the SingStat Table Builder. Data.gov.sg hosts more than 1,800 data sets from over 70 public agencies, including areas such as environment, health and transport.

Dr Ang suggested making de-identified survey data publicly available. While de-identified survey data is of greater utility than aggregated survey data, it also carries a higher risk of survey respondents being reidentified, especially if made readily available for public use and combined with other available data sets. This could potentially compromise the privacy of survey participants.

The Government therefore adopts a careful and calibrated approach when sharing de-identified or anonymised survey data, to maintain respondents' confidentiality and to mitigate potential sensitivities.

Agencies assess if the data should be shared based on several factors, including whether the data undermines security or economic interests.

De-identified or anonymised survey data may be shared with non-government entities, such as commissioned researchers, where there are data-sharing agreements to ensure proper use.

In addition, such data is accessed only within a secured setting, such as data labs, to minimise reidentification risk. Apart from this, non-government entities can access aggregated survey data through our open data platforms.

Respondents who take part in government-commissioned surveys do so with the assurance of confidentiality. It is our responsibility as the custodians of the data to ensure that confidentiality is safeguarded and the security of the data is not compromised.

We will continue to explore different ways of making more detailed survey data sets available to those who require them, in a safe and secure manner.

Quek Su Lynn

Director, Government Data Office

Smart Nation and Digital Government Office

Prime Minister's Office