Number of public officers trained in data science to double to ramp up Smart Nation push

 Announcing the blueprint at the inaugural Smart Nation Innovations Week's Opening Symposium on June 5, 2018, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said: "A Smart Nation will be powered by technology."
Announcing the blueprint at the inaugural Smart Nation Innovations Week's Opening Symposium on June 5, 2018, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said: "A Smart Nation will be powered by technology."ST PHOTO: IRENE THAM

SINGAPORE - About 20,000 public servants, or 14 per cent of the public-sector workforce, will receive data science training over the next five years to speed up efforts to turn Singapore into a Smart Nation.

The number has doubled from the original target of 10,000 to reflect the accelerated pace under a new Digital Government Blueprint released on Tuesday (June 5).

Announcing the blueprint at the inaugural Smart Nation Innovations Week's Opening Symposium, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said: "A Smart Nation will be powered by technology."

And public servants have their work cut out for them, with many of their roles subject to digital transformation "to put citizens at the centre".

For instance, Singapore already uses software to analyse the data collected from a network of sensors and roadside cameras to keep residents safe and ensure that traffic is smooth.

"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.

Held at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, the week-long Smart Nation Innovations Week started on June 2.

The Opening Symposium features a two-day Digital Government Exchange, where international public-sector leaders exchange notes on smart cities efforts, and a Straits Digital Exchange, a closed-door event for government officials.

The newly announced blueprint outlines Singapore's plans to transform the Government and society through the use of technology, building on and superseding previous e-government masterplans such as eGov 2015.

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

Additionally, a core group of some 20,000 public servants - comprising data scientists as well as those in other disciplines such as finance and marketing - will receive training in more advanced areas such as data visualisation and predictive analytics.

So far, more than 4,000 public officers have been trained in such skills.

It is believed that raising the data literacy of public servants across disciplines can help them do their jobs better. For instance, a finance officer can better track operational costs and efficiency using dashboard software.

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group will establish a Centre of Excellence for Information and Communications within GovTech, the agency behind the public sector's digital transformation, to support such training.

The new Digital Government Blueprint also contains plans to design government services around the needs of citizens and businesses.

A key project is an anticipatory service called the Moments of Life app, which lets 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 government agencies.

Another key project is a national digital identity system essential to supporting a digital economy in the future. It comprises 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 public housing.