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Govt sets aside S$1.2b for tech-related projects

Singaporeans can expect to benefit from better delivery of government services through new and improved technology. The government has set aside S$1.2 billion for technology-related projects this financial year.

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans can expect to benefit from better delivery of government services through new and improved technology.

The government has set aside S$1.2 billion for technology-related projects this financial year (2014/2015), which works out to nearly 400 tenders to be open to the industry.

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) announced its budget for tenders at a briefing for industry players on Tuesday.

IDA said it is looking to deliver services to end-users faster.

As Singapore moves towards being a Smart Nation, some of the outcomes authorities hope to see include developing more apps to help users make smarter choices in daily life, making e-services such as government websites or apps more responsive and user-friendly, and further beefing up cybersecurity in Singapore.

IDA is also looking to co-source, which means it will be working with groups like businesses, researchers and users to develop solutions together.

Jacqueline Poh, IDA’s managing director, said: "Previously, we may have had products that were developed from the agency’s point of view.

“I think increasingly, we are going to be seeking user feedback, user interface, perhaps bringing some of these digital products to citizens earlier so as to seek their feedback on whether it's working for them, and how it can be improved."

For JamiQ, a company that studies online data, the government’s S$1.2 billion budget for technology-related projects is an opportunity to pitch in, to help agencies improve their services based on trends and what is said on social media.

Michael Lim, JamiQ’s CEO, said: "I think we have moved to a new era where we seek a better understanding of each other in terms of people to people and government to citizen.

“What we do is we facilitate that process of better understanding in terms of how citizens would react, or be able to let the government understand what the citizens are concerned about, the issues."

Several government agencies also shared plans at the briefing on how they will use technology to boost their work.

The police, for example, are hoping to develop facial recognition software. 

Victor Goh, chief technology officer at KAI Square, said: "If a police officer on the ground sees someone that he think is a suspect, he needs to call back to the HQ to verify whether the person is really the suspect.

"He may need to take a picture and send it back. But by the time he does that, it would have already taken a few minutes and some time would have passed."

With mounted cameras, officers can instantly verify if a person is indeed a suspect.

The software is one of the areas the Home Affairs Ministry will invest in, in the next three years. Current users include retail shops -- as it helps them identify the age and sex of shoppers -- so that they can fine tune marketing tactics.

The software can also be used to count the number of people in a particular area, to aid in crowd control situations.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force, on the other hand, is hoping to develop a system to safely train its frontline officers in rescue work.  

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