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Keynote Address By Deputy Prime Minister / Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam At The EGov Global Exchange 2013

17 Jun 2013

Open Data: Co-Creating a Better Future”

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


1. Good morning and a very warm welcome to all delegates – Ministers, Ambassadors, industry leaders, and e-Government practitioners from around the world. I am pleased to join all of you here at the opening of the eGov Global Exchange 2013.

Singapore’s e-Government Journey

2. Advancements in information and communications technology (ICT) are transforming everyday life for citizens in countries around the world, and will be indispensable in the way Governments interact with citizens and serve them. 

3. In Singapore, we have over the past three decades adopted a deliberate strategy of using technology to improve and transform public service delivery. We wanted to provide enhanced convenience and cost savings for the public. We also wanted to increase public sector productivity. In both respects, we have achieved good progress, and are now setting our sights on more ambitious goals.

4. When we made our first foray into e-Government in the 1980s, our first priority was to put in place a good, basic ICT infrastructure to automate work processes and reduce operational inefficiencies. Productivity went up in Government.

5. We went further a decade ago, improving service delivery by moving many public services online. Behind-the scenes, what was created was an Integrated Government that sought to work seamlessly to serve the public’s needs. 

6. We currently have more than 1,700 services available online, and based on our annual satisfaction surveys, at least 93% of our customers are satisfied with our e-services delivery. 

7. In 2011, we reached an inflexion point in our e-Government journey. Several emerging trends prompted us to take a fresh look. For one, there has been phenomenal growth in the use of mobile devices, and consequently tremendous opportunities for businesses as well as governments and businesses alike. The convergence of this on-the-go connectivity with Web 2.0 tools such as Facebook and YouTube has also brought about unprecedented levels of communications, sharing and collaboration within loosely connected communities. 

Highlights of eGov2015 programmes

8. Against this backdrop, we launched the eGov2015 Masterplan in 2011 to harness the resources and collective knowledge of our people and businesses. We are now at the halfway mark of this Masterplan, and it is timely to review what we have achieved thus far.

9. We revamped the eCitizen portal late last year, and piloted OneInbox in October last year. They were both motivated by a simple principle - that we must start with the information and services that customers want, and place what they want at the heart of our communications. For example, if you’re looking for information on purchasing an HDB flat, you will find information from both the Housing Development Board (HDB) and the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB – for funding matters) aggregated on eCitizen, instead of having to trawl through each agency’s website.
10. Likewise, with OneInbox, rather than having to log into multiple websites, citizens will be able to receive all their Government correspondences in OneInbox. Currently, four agencies[1] have come onboard, and more will follow. 

11. Our agencies are also actively venturing into serving customers through the mobile and social media spaces. There are currently more than 100 unique mobile government services available today, compared to about 40 two years ago. In addition, many agencies are now using Facebook and Twitter to seek feedback and obtain ideas from the public. For example, the mobile app by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) provides a wide range of live information such as bus arrival times and road traffic updates, and allows users to report road defects. 

12. Businesses can look forward to using our new Corporate Pass, in early 2016. The CorpPass will provide a one-stop access for businesses to transact online with the Government instead of needing to access multiple platforms. It also enables segregation of personal and corporate transactions. To further enhance convenience and productivity for our businesses, we are studying the feasibility of introducing a single sign-on feature as part of this system. 

13. Finally, we have progressed in our “Open Data” efforts. Since its launch in 2011, the Government’s one-stop data-sharing platform,, has grown to see more than 8,000 datasets today. About 50% of these datasets are in machine-readable formats. We currently also have more than 60 map themes on OneMap, our one-stop geospatial data platform.

A new era for e-Government: Transforming the Public Service, Co-creating with Singaporeans

14. We will now go further in e-Government, so as to transform how we create and deliver public services. Let me elaborate.

15. The issues which the Government faces are increasingly dynamic, multi-faceted and complex. We have a more educated and technologically-savvy citizenry that has higher expectations and wants to play a more active role in national affairs. At the same time, a tight labour market is now a permanent reality, and this compels the Public Service to seek productivity gains just as the private sector has to do so. 

16. We can leverage on e-Government to better meet these opportunities and challenges. 

17. Through smart and innovative use of technology, and by opening up more of our data, we can proactively crowd-source ideas and co-create applications with the wider community.

18. This is why we have chosen the theme of this year’s Global Exchange to be: “Engaging Citizens, Co-Creating the Future”.

Government’s “Open Data” Philosophy: Proactive sharing to catalyse social innovation and create value for Singapore

19. “Open Data” is a potential game-changer, all over the world. McKinsey estimated in a recent study that properly exploiting big data in healthcare could mean up to USD450 billion in reduced healthcare spending in the USA[2].

20. In Singapore, we have had some early and encouraging starts. To date, more than 100 apps have been developed using government data. For example, private sector app developers have been using LTA’s data on Electronic Road Pricing and carpark availability to create some of the more popular transport-related apps such as and Carpark @ SG. And we have also worked closely with community groups, such that you can now use OneMap to find out where the clean public toilets around you are, or even to get information on street cats over to the Cat Welfare Society. 

21. In addition, some agencies have been actively deploying geospatial analytics to improve their service delivery. The National Environment Agency (NEA) is, as we speak, using geospatial analytics to manage the dengue outbreak. Others such as the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) and the National Library Board (NLB) are similarly using geospatial analytics to plan the location of sports facilities and libraries respectively.

22. I am confident we can do much more. To better harness the transformative power of data, we will adopt a two-pronged strategy as part of our new “Open Data” philosophy.

23. Internally within Government, cross-agency data-sharing will be much more pervasive. In addition, there is great scope for use of data analytics to design and provide better and quicker services to our customers. It will also raise our productivity in Government, and improve decision-making.

24. Outside Government, we will proactively share more data. This will encourage more feedback, as well as research and analysis on issues of public concern. It can also create opportunities for innovation and new solutions, leading to new jobs and businesses, and potentially improving the everyday lives of Singaporeans. 

25. We will move ahead with Open Data, in two directions. First, the Government is committed to releasing more datasets to the public. We will be releasing a set of data-sharing principles to guide government agencies in sharing more data and co-creating with the public. Let me give just a few examples of impending data-sharing by Government agencies: 

a) The Traffic Police will be sharing more granular data on road accidents, such as the number of casualties by month and age group, as well as the causes of road accidents – and all this in more user-friendly formats on These could spur informed analysis as well as the creation of new apps which may improve the safety of travellers and pedestrians on the road. 

b) The Ministry of National Development (MND) will be mapping past rental transactions for all public and private properties onto OneMap. Citizens will be able to view past rental prices of all the properties in a particular area, and simultaneously view other information such as the location of the nearest MRT station before making any rental decisions. 

c) And the NEA will be releasing new data on lightning information, as well as providing new tools for app developers to pull real-time data such as the amount of rainfall.

26. Second, we will work towards making all datasets on and OneMap machine-readable by end 2013. This too is important. It will give the public easier access to the data and make it more convenient for them to analyse different datasets together.

Launch of PopulationQuery

27. As an immediate, upcoming example of our efforts, I am happy to announce the launch of PopulationQuery, a new service on OneMap developed by the Department of Statistics (DOS) and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA). This tool allows users to get various forms of data on the Singapore population, and displays the results on a map. Users can then choose to overlay this with other information such as schools, transport options and other amenities. PopulationQuery will be very useful for citizens, businesses and academics alike. For example, if you are thinking of buying a property, you may be interested in the demographics of the area, and at the same time you can see the schools, restaurants as well as even property prices in the area! All at a glance.

28. For businesses, PopulationQuery will provide useful information about the profile of potential pools of customers. They can overlay this with information about the other registered businesses in the area, and decide their product mix or the marketing strategies to employ. 

Embracing a WOG approach – For seamless, customer-centric service delivery

29. Even as we release more data and co-create ideas and services with the public, we must continually improve on service delivery. Fundamentally, a Whole-of-Government mindset must underpin all our e-Government initiatives – we have to adopt a collaborative mindset, break down agency silos and strive to provide seamless service delivery for our customers.

30. Indeed, the United Nations E-Government Survey 2012 found that whole-of-Government approaches are leading the way in countries at the forefront of e-Government – the entry point of service delivery is centralised to a single portal where citizens can access all government-supplied services, regardless of which government agency provides them.

31. We must be nimble and networked. We have already had some success on this front, such as our Online Business Licensing System (OBLS) and the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) CORENET e-Information system, each bringing together more than 10 agencies to serve their customers seamlessly. We will be doing more.


32. “Open Data” is a new way of thinking in our e-Government journey. I am confident that it will help to catalyse more innovation both inside and outside Government, to bring about greater convenience and productivity, create new opportunities for businesses to create value, and improve the lives of citizens.

33. We hope to continue learning from our partners from around the world on your e-Government experiences and successes, and also partner with you as we embark on this exciting journey together. 

34. In closing, I wish you an enjoyable and enriching session at the eGov Global Exchange 2013. Thank you.

[1] The four agencies are: Ministry of Manpower, Central Provident Fund Board, Housing and Development Board and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.
[2] The ‘big data’ revolution in healthcare: Accelerating value and innovation, McKinsey & Company, January 2013