Blueprint to ensure no one is left behind in Smart Nation drive

Singapore will be launching a Digital Readiness Blueprint spelling out how it intends to equip every citizen to live in a Smart Nation, envisioned to be controlled by sensors and where cashless payments rule.

"As we push ahead with digital technology, we need to also ensure that no one is left behind," Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, said yesterday in his ministry's addendum to the President's Address.

The blueprint - to be released by a workgroup led by the Ministry of Communications and Information - will outline strategies to equip citizens for digital access, literacy and participation.

Along with this, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) will publish a Digital Government Blueprint in the middle of the year, outlining goals and strategies to improve government services.

"The Government will lead by example and accelerate our digitalisation efforts," said Dr Balakrishnan.

One of the key projects is an anticipatory service called the Moments of Life app, which will let parents avoid the hassle of going to different agencies to fill in forms. To be piloted next month, it will allow the Government to analyse citizen data from multiple government agencies.

Other key projects include national digital identity and e-payment systems - essential to supporting a digital economy in the future.

To deepen capabilities in the public sector in key areas such as data science, artificial intelligence and cyber security for the future economy, SNDGG will establish a Centre of Excellence for Information and Communications within GovTech, the agency behind the public sector's digital transformation.

"To prosper and stay relevant in the world, and to build a better future for ourselves, Singapore has to embrace these changes, ex-periment and innovate, invest in the right capabilities and skills, and build a Smart Nation," said Dr Balakrishnan.

Mr Aloysius Cheang, Asia-Pacific vice-president of the Centre for Strategic Cyberspace + Security Science, a London-based think-tank, said: "A great amount of re-engineering is required to make sure that all the public sector digital services protect users' privacy and are easy to use by anyone, including the elderly."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2018, with the headline 'Blueprint to ensure no one is left behind in Smart Nation drive'. Print Edition | Subscribe