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Government Analytics & Citizen Centricity

Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to visit some of FutureGov’s longstanding friends in Singapore’s public sector - visiting IT departments to get a grip on what is keeping them busy, and uncover (mostly off the record) their priorities for the year ahead. These insights have helped me put the finishing touches on our 9th annual FutureGov Forum Singapore.

Common areas of focus of my conversations have been the urgency of making more sense of the meaning of the ever-growing volumes of data being collected, in order to support more effective decision making. This is something my colleagues covering other countries in Asia Pacific have noted, and points to a realisation among the region’s civil servants that they potentially hold an ‘information advantage’. Much of the discussions at FutureGov Forum Singapore will revolve around how best to put this information advantage to best use.

According to Dr Cheah Horn Mun, Director, Education Technology, Ministry Of Education, learning analytics is a priority this year. We discussed the role of analytics in developing 21st century learning skills, and whether automation can play a greater role. For example, how can we use analytics to assess whether a student has mastered collaboration?

The Singapore Prison Service is looking to analytics to improve security. CIO Ser Leng Kuai said that video and audio analytics can potentially detect aggressive behaviour to alert officers of potential fights, and perhaps even recognise behaviour of prisoners who might inflict harm on themselves. Our conversation brought back memories of FutureGov’s visit to Cluster A in 2010, when I experienced first-hand the state-of-the-art technology deployed in their facility, which includes the network of surveillance cameras.

Beng Huay Yeo, CIO, Singapore Customs is also exploring business analytics this year to improve services to both businesses and customers. Besides innovation, transformation and efficiency, Yeo shared that ‘Customer Centricity’ is also one of the key focus for her team.

The Housing Development Board’s (HDB) latest Branch Office in Punggol, a northeastern suburb, is another good example of improving citizen experience with an integrated approach, new technologies and processes. Launched in December 2012, the Branch Office is thoughtfully designed to suit the needs of the residents, which is made up of more young families who tend to be technologically savvy, mentioned Chin Yew Leong, HDB’s CIO. Wireless technology, mobile devices, self-service kiosks have all been worked into the design of this office - and there is scope for this to be rolled-out more widely depending on the feedback from citizen-users.

I have a few more meetings in the coming weeks and am sure there will be other interesting perspectives from one of the world’s most advanced e-governments. If you are keen to learn about the plans and challenges of Singapore government, join us at the upcoming FutureGov Forum Singapore, 23 April, ParkRoyal on Pickering, where we will discuss the role of ‘sense making’ and ‘Big Data’ against the backdrop of our three key themes of transformation, efficiency and innovation.

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