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Singapore committed to transform itself into a Smart Nation

The world is undergoing severe challenges and is demanding respite seeking to maximise its ability to respond to surges in need. For this, technology represents itself to be of great opportunity that can address needs and serves the individuals as well as the society better. Batting for technology and digitisation, the Non-Aligned Movement has remained committed to allow member nations and the rest of the world to achieve liberalisation and freedom in deconstructing economic boundaries, enabling a free flow of goods, services and technologies across them. Taking cognizance of the need of a techno-savvy world, Non-Aligned Movement and its member states have undertaken a series of major steps to step into the new world and prosper the lives of its peoples.

Joining the Non-Aligned Movement and other nations as well, comes Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative that aims to make Singapore an outstanding city for people to live, work play in, and where the human spirit flourishes. In light of the increasingly digitised and knowledge-based economy, Singapore decided to step on to implementing technology systematically and extensively to improve the lives of its people and introduced its Smart Nation initiative.

Over the years as Singapore has witnessed rapid urbanisation and increasing urban density, several increasingly complex and intertwined policy issues like overcrowding, high costs of housing, strains to public infrastructure among others have come across. Also, Singapore’s growth in labour force and capital investment has further prompted the country to initiate its transformation into a smart city. With an aim to support better living, stronger communities, and create more opportunities, for all, Singapore, an island nation in maritime Southeast Asia, in 2014 launched the Smart Nation initiative which can make Singapore a place where businesses can be effective and make the most of the new possibilities in the digital economy. Taking note of some of the serious issues like the ageing population and slowness in inflow of immigrants that would, result in growth of labour more slowly and consumption as a percentage of GDP tending to rise, the growth and prosperity could be ensured by a mix of technology and better business processes, which gave rise to the idea of building a smart nation. Besides this, the idea of a smart nation is also important for Singapore to let its home-grown talent continue living there and not let foreign talent to relocate them.

Building a smart nation includes contribution a whole-of-nation, comprising Digital Government, Digital Economy and Digital Society that Singapore has implemented significantly. For digital government, Singapore’s digitisation journey began three decades back with the National Computerisation Programme in the 1980s, followed by National Computer Board (now the Government Technology Agency or GovTech). By the 2000s, the country shifted to providing government services online and today, here it is when most transactions between citizens and the Government can be done within a snap of finger.

It is not only the government’s efforts alone that could lead Singapore to a smart nation, it is important to engage people and the society to ensure that they pursue leadership opportunities and contribute equally in the tech-sphere. When it comes to digital economy, the Ministry for Communications and Information, in May 2018 announced plans to digitise every business and industry in order to increase productivity. With digital society the Smart Nation project aims to permeate digital literacy into the national consciousness.

Apart from these three pillars namely-Digital Economy, Digital Government and Digital Society, six key initiatives at a more granular level were paid focus on, including transport, urban living, health, digital government services, start-ups and businesses and strategic national projects.

In the present times, the economy is witnessing a paradigm shift where agencies and organisations are beginning to see technology not just as an expense but also as an investment in new strategic capabilities. As the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has always called upon collaborative and concerted efforts of the member nations, with the collective efforts from the government of Singapore and on part of the individuals and the societies, a greater interoperability between and across Government ICT systems can be achieved. A lot has been achieved and a lot still needs to be achieved. Thus, taking on the right road, the economy needs to remain committed towards transforming itself into a smart nation, a place for the Singaporeans worth living.

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