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IDA unveils ‘smart nation’ initiatives

THE Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) on Tuesday reaffirmed Singapore’s ambition to become the world’s first “smart nation” and announced at the Smart Nation: Data Work event a series of supporting initiatives aimed at building a vibrant and sustainable data ecosystem.

First off is Data-as-a-Service (DaaS), a pilot programme that seeks to address the challenge of harnessing datasets in the private sector via a federated approach. Data providers from all industries can participate in the pilot to “increase the visibility of their datasets and reach out to new customers”, IDA said.

To kickstart the programme, IDA is partnering Amazon Web Services (AWS) – Amazon’s cloud computing platform – to provide cloud computing services to the first 25 data providers who sign up via AWS. The latter will offer each participant US$3,000 worth of usage credits to host their datasets.

Not only will AWS help these organisations host and process their highly confidential data, it will also assist them to fuel innovation and agile development, Peter Moore, managing director of APAC global public sector, AWS Singapore, told The Business Times.

On Tuesday, IDA also announced that it has partnered enterprise application software maker SAP Asia to boost big data innovation among small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups here.

“In recent years, we have seen increased adoption of big data and analytics by multi-national companies, homegrown conglomerates, even start-ups,” said Francois Lancon, president of SAP South-east Asia.

“Singapore’s ‘smart nation’ platform will present a working model for South-east Asian governments . . . and open doors to new business opportunities for companies to adopt big data and analytics to provide smarter, faster and personalised services.”

Even though there are many smart cities globally, Singapore wants to be the world’s first smart nation, Steve Leonard, IDA’s executive deputy chairman, reiterated at the event.

And just how will IDA know if Singapore has reached its goal?

“We wouldn’t know,” Mr Leonard told reporters. “It could be a lifelong journey . . . we have what we call mile markers. But what’s more important is having the mindset that we can always do better.”

While IDA’s role is to bring together all parts of the government and facilitate collaboration between Singapore and global businesses, that of the private sector’s – MNCs, SMEs and in particular, start-ups – is to bring energy to the data ecosystem, he said.

“Start-ups are disruptive and always a great addition to any conversation . . . they bring fresh and different ideas to the table. This energy is important . . . (so) we work hard to keep them included.”

The first Singapore start-ups to be formally accredited by IDA were also announced on Tuesday. They are mobile solutions company Tagit, video analytics provider KAI Square and mobile security firm V-Key, all of which bring technologies that are immediately applicable to IDA’s smart nation initiatives, said Mr Leonard.

These companies, appointed under the Accreditation@IDA scheme which was first announced in April this year, have been endorsed as qualified vendors capable of handling projects by government agencies and large enterprises.

Typically, start-ups without track record or financial clout will find it hard to meet the strict criteria of government tenders; now, the accredited few can enjoy “first consideration” after applying for government projects.

Tagit, which is already working on a few such projects, is looking at how to better engage citizens in the “transport and logistics” spheres, said its chief executive officer Sandeep Bagaria. “The accreditation has also made us a stronger company . . . it gave us branding, access to new go-to-market partners, as well as technologies,” he said.

The accredited companies also had nothing but praise for IDA’s evaluation process, which they described as very exhaustive but robust.

Said Benjamin Mah, CEO of V-Key: “IDA really assembled a professional team that did their due diligence, and showed that they truly understood current and future data needs.”

The Smart Nation: Data Work event continues on Wednesday at Hotel Fort Canning.

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