Almost all government services in Singapore to go digital by 2023

More civil servants will also get data science training as Smart Nation push gains speed

Revealing plans under the new Digital Government Blueprint, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the digital transformation would put citizens at the centre. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SMART NATION SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - In just a few years' time, Singaporeans will be able to apply for public housing, receive their Edusave Merit Bursary and handle nearly all their government dealings without having to leave home.

Apart from being able to access every single government service online, they will also be able to complete between 90 per cent and 95 per cent of transactions with the Government digitally by 2023, as Singapore's Smart Nation push picks up momentum.

One would still have to physically collect the keys to one's flat or one's passport - transactions that cannot be completed digitally - but the direction has been defined and an ambitious set of targets spelt out.

These include offering the option of cashless payment for every single government service in five years' time. The public will also be able to sign digitally for all government services by then.

To enable this transformation, about 20,000 public servants - or one in seven of the public sector workforce - will be trained in data science by 2023. The number has doubled from the original target of 10,000.

Revealing these plans under the new Digital Government Blueprint released on Tuesday (June 6), Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the digital transformation would put citizens at the centre.

For instance, the SingPass Mobile app being launched later this year will enable access to government services without the need for physical tokens or SMS passwords, said DPM Teo.

This app will allow Singaporeans to pay bills, sign documents online, apply for public housing and buy and sell homes and cars with a few clicks of keys.

Speaking at the opening of the Smart Nation Innovations Week, Mr Teo said that public servants will have their work cut out for them. That is where data analysis will come in handy. For instance, Singapore already uses software to analyse the data collected from a network of sensors and roadside cameras to keep residents safe and informed about traffic flow.

"In future, with more data - for example from smart street lamps - and tools to better plan bus routes and improve carpooling and bike sharing, commuters can plan their journeys, save time and have a better, safer experience getting around our city for work or leisure," Mr Teo said.

For a start, all public servants will receive basic digital skills training, such as how to safeguard themselves against phishing.

Additionally, a core group of some 20,000 public servants will be trained in more advanced areas such as data visualisation and predictive analytics.

With this, a finance officer, for instance, can better track operational costs and efficiency using dashboard software.

Services will be designed around the needs of citizens and businesses.

A key project is a Moments of Life app, which will let parents avoid the hassle of going to different agencies to fill in forms. To be piloted this year, the app will allow the Government to analyse citizen data from multiple agencies.

Another key project is a national digital identity system essential to supporting a digital economy in the future. This includes MyInfo, a government-backed digital vault of personal data that allows citizens to auto-fill online forms such as those for opening bank accounts and applying for pu-blic housing.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2018, with the headline Almost all government services in Singapore to go digital by 2023. Subscribe