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Smart Nation Singapore

My interest in Singapore started after I read a Bloomberg article pointing to the country as “The World’s Most Competitive Economy” a few years back. Today, the country also ranks high in digital competitiveness. In the 2022 edition of the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking — which looks at how equipped global economies are at adopting new digital technologies in government practices, business models and society — Singapore placed fourth out of 63 global economies.

Moreover, Singapore has been named the top smart city in Asia and the seventh smartest in the world in the 2023 IMD Smart City Index, which ranks 141 cities by how they use technology to address the challenges they face to achieve a higher quality of life.

It was in 2014 when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong outlined the plans to turn Singapore into the world’s first Smart Nation.

In an episode of Citizen Digital: A Web Series by Eric Egan, Sarah Espaldon of Singapore’s Open Government Products (OGP), shared some of the challenges that had to be overcome in order to create a truly digital government. This includes security, reliability, and usability. She stressed how security is important because a loss of trust in digital government services could also mean a loss of trust in the government.

OGP is known as Singapore’s modern tech team working on public sector problems. It’s their government’s experimental development team. They work on new tech practices and demonstrate how these are successful and cost-effective in their own operations, then propagate these to the rest of the public service system to accelerate the digitalization of their government.

Tech for Good Institute outlines five key priority areas in Singapore that indicate the development of the country’s digital economy: (1) Building a secure digital ecosystem; (2) Developing a vibrant digital economy; (3) Being digitally ready for a stable society; (4) Intensifying research and development; and (5) Positioning Singapore as a regional trade hub.

Last year, the Philippines and Singapore signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on digital cooperation, a first between the two nations.

The MOU covers digital cooperation, including on digital connectivity, particularly in inter-operable systems and frameworks that enable electronic documentation; cybersecurity, such as organizing training courses and technical programs through the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (ASCCE) to develop and enhance skills related to cybersecurity; and digital government/e-governance, such as in the areas of digital government strategy, digital government services, and digital identity.

There will also be an exchange of knowledge, technical expertise, and best practices on measures relating to scam calls and scam short message services; on personal data protection; and in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G, cloud computing, Internet of Things, big data, analytics and robotics; among others.

There will also be cooperation and exchange of knowledge to boost the digital innovation ecosystem, including connecting business owners with potential solution providers; exploring cooperation on digital capability and capacity building programs; and exchange of knowledge and best practices on digital infrastructure.

Singapore has so much experience in the area of e-governance and cybersecurity and through this memorandum of understanding, they can share with us their best practices on these areas. We hope to learn from them and replicate those that can also work for our country.

It might take a while before we can be a smart nation like Singapore, but with the current push for digital transformation, this could be possible sooner, one smart city/town at a time.

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