The newly launched Government Technology Agency (GovTech) will aim to make digital Government services more citizen-friendly, and this means better making use of the data on hand to do so.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim announced some of these citizen-friendly initiatives at GovTech's launch on Friday (Oct 7). One example of this is GovTech and the Ministry of Finance partnering the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to explore the use of MyInfo to the finance sector. MyInfo is a consent-based platform that allows users to upload certain personal data, and acts as a digital vault.

The Proof-of-Concept with two undisclosed banks will take place at the end of 2016, and more details of the implementation will be revealed after.

Another initiative is the Parents Gateway, which is meant to bring greater convenience to parents on school matters such as fee payments and signing of consent forms, GovTech said. The Ministry of Education and GovTech will be testing out the platform at five undisclosed schools starting from next month, it added.

Businesses, too, will benefit from the new agency's move to streamline transactions with the Government. For instance, GovTech will work with Singapore Customs to build the National Trade Platform - a one-stop, next-generation trade information management platform to support companies in the trade and logistics industry, as well as adjacent sectors.

Once rolled out, the NTP will replace the current TradeNet and TradeXchange systems, and can potentially bring about up to S$600 million worth of man-hour savings annually for businesses, GovTech said.

DATA IN DEMAND

The new agency will also look at how else data can be thought about and harnessed in its efforts to establish a digital Government. One example is the Pulse of the Economy initiative by its data science team, which will look into high-frequency data such as electricity consumption, public transport, and online jobs.

During a recent media briefing, GovTech showed how the team meshed data from EZ-Link usage in the Tai Seng industrial estate and electricity consumption to determine how the economy is doing in that particular location. It reiterated that this is experimental, and is meant to complement - not replace - existing indicators for economic performance.

"Currently, traditional indicators such as GDP and employment are used to monitor how well the economy is doing," GovTech said. "With Pulse of the Economy, we can merge frequently updated and granular data to develop new economic indicators to help Government agencies better monitor the economy and identify opportunities for job growth."

Besides Pulse on the Economy, GovTech said the data.gov.sg portal aims to go beyond being a repository to helping to make the Government data more relevant and understandable to the public and developers.

As of September this year, there are more than 600 datasets from 70 public agencies made available on the portal. This, as well as the developers' portal launched in April to make it easier to access up-to-date Government data, are meant to help foster a culture of co-creation, the agency said.

Source: Government of Singapore