Singapore

$2.4 billion worth of tech tenders to be called

Singapore's tech budget this year will be close to last year's record high as the country gears up to build a Smart Nation sensor network, among other digital projects.

In all, $2.4 billion worth of technology tenders will be called this financial year ending March 31, 2018.

A tender for data analytics software and a communications backbone to link up sensors and data centres will be called by the end of this year.

The investment is part of the Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP), which will feature a video analytics system to help detect anomalies to predict, say, potentially unruly crowds or traffic congestion.

The SNSP will also use the Land Transport Authority's 95,000 lamp posts islandwide to install sensors that collect and transmit data such as temperature and humidity, if an ongoing pilot between the LTA and GovTech is successful.

Speaking to 1,000 people at a briefing yesterday, Mr Chan Cheow Hoe, government chief information officer, said: "...We need to build a nationwide platform to allow us to make better decisions and respond quickly by analysing data (collected)."

Continued spending on robots is also on the cards.

GovTech could partner Temasek Polytechnic to build a robot to detect missing or wrongly-shelved books in the poly's library by scanning radio-frequency identification tags.

This year's budget is close to the $2.82 billion spent last year.

Last year, two-thirds of technology contracts went to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

One of them, DC Frontiers, developed Handshakes, an analysis tool that lets users check the background of some 6 million companies and the individuals involved in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

It is being used by public-sector procurement and audit teams to flag conflict of interest in companies they deal with.

About $300 million worth of technology tenders will be called this year for the healthcare sector as it copes with a shrinking workforce and a ageing population, said Integrated Health Information Systems.

The funds will come from the Ministry of Health and public hospitals.

The projects include home-based healthcare for monitoring the vital signs of patients with chronic diseases and assistive robots in the hospitals to help patients with rehabilitative therapy.

New centre to monitor cyberthreats

As Singapore pushes digital limits to improve citizens' lives, it is also beefing up cyber defences with a centre to monitor threats.

A tender for the first Government Security Operation Centre (SOC) - featuring artificial intelligence and the analytics smarts to detect cyberthreats - will be called by early next year.

The SOC will soak up a huge portion of the cyber security budget, set at $528 million for the financial year ending March 31, 2018. The SOC will replace the Cyber-Watch Centre, which has been in operation since 2007 and the contract for which will expire in 2019.

Ms Jacqueline Poh, chief executive of the Government Technology Agency, said network and cabling projects are under way to build "the foundation of a Smart Nation and a digital government".

"This year, the Government intends to spend a larger proportion of the budget on digital and data analytics projects, cyber security systems and smart applications," she said.

These areas, between them, will account for close to half of this year's total budget.

The drive to tackle cyber threats is now more urgent.

Mr Aloysius Cheang, executive vice-president of global computing security association Cloud Security Alliance, said a highly automated centre that takes advantage of artificial intelligence will speed up threat response.

This is especially crucial as we become a Smart Nation.

"Singapore will be subjected to all kinds of attacks that will take advantage of citizens' connected devices - from toilet bowls to smart TVs," said Mr Cheang. 
- IRENE THAM, THE STRAITS TIMES

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