'Turbo' boost for Smart Nation drive
New office will allow Government to better coordinate and speed up key programmes
Digital initiatives like the digital identity and network sensor system under the Smart Nation drive are set to be "turbo-charged" and rolled out even quicker with the formation of a new office to oversee the planning of these projects.
The newly-created Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) will comprise staff from the Smart Nation Programme Office, as well as technology-planning departments from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Communications and Information.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean told reporters yesterday that the reorganisation will allow for the Government to be more coordinated in its drive towards key digital programmes and key enablers for the smart nation programme.
"If we do it centrally here, we have a much greater ability to get all the different agencies and synergies to integrate," he said.
The SNDGO will work alongside the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) - which develops and implements digital services and applied technology - under a newly-created Smart Nation and Digital Government Group, which will come under the Prime Minister's Office.
The group will be overseen by a ministerial committee, chaired by Mr Teo, with Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim as deputy chairman.
The group will include Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung (Higher Education and Skills) and Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary.
Dr Balakrishnan said this will accelerate smart nation projects - like the digital identity, e-payments and national sensors systems - and hopes to see major progress over the next year.
"It's going to turbo-charge our efforts in realising a smart nation.
"Over the past 2½ years, we have been focused on infrastructure and digital platforms and improving our business ecosystem, and... there is some significant progress," he said.
But there is more to be done.
"We need to do so, not because we are on the back foot, but simply because the opportunities are so great out there," he said.
Dr Balakrishnan, who is also Foreign Affairs Minister, said in Parliament earlier this month that a new e-payment scheme will be launched by mid-year to allow customers of any bank to send money to anyone via their mobile number.
He also said it is essential to have a new integrated digital identity system - which has biometric and encryption capabilities - to allow more smart nation transactions to go online.