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Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister of State for Finance And Transport At The Plugfest Programming Competition - APP Showcase and Prize Awards Ceremony

03 Apr 2013

Mr Goh Lih Shiun, Country Lead for Policy & Government Affairs, Google Asia Pacific
Dr S.P.T Krishnan, Lab Head, Institute for Infocomm Research,
Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.      Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to join you today at the inaugural PlugFest Programming Competition awards ceremony. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the winners, and the organisers on the success of this competition.

2.      I was given a brief tour of the entries a short while ago, and I must say that I was very encouraged and excited by what I saw. In particular, I am impressed by the innovativeness and creativity of our participants, and that many of you have very novel ideas to improve the lives of Singaporeans. We clearly have a lot of talent in Singapore!

3.      I am also heartened to see enthusiastic participation by so many students in this competition. In fact, I understand that one of the more interesting applications developed was developed by our students. An app called “PP-Coupon” eliminates the need for paper coupons, as it allows users to pay for their parking through the app.

4.      This competition clearly shows that with great ideas, tenacity and access to good data, young Singaporeans can be innovators, value creators and social contributors. I hope that this enthusiasm and creativity will continue to flow.

Innovating with data to create value

5.      Technology has transformed our lives, and also the way Government works. Ten years ago, a citizen would have to fill out stacks of forms to file his personal income tax returns. Today, we have moved on to e-filing, and for some, no-filing!

6.      We have made it easier for businesses to apply for licences through the one-stop Online Business Licensing Service (OBLS) and it is now also safer for citizens to carry out transactions online with the Government through the introduction of SingPass.

7.      To improve the way we deliver public services, we hope to harness the power of our people - by facilitating co-creation with our citizens. The release of data-sets for mash-ups or data analytics is a good example of how co-creation can enable us to gain insights into consumers’ behaviour or create new services to improve the lives of Singaporeans.

8.      Let me cite another example. Some of you would be familiar with “ShowNearby”, which started as a simple web service in 2008, has since grown into one of Singapore’s leading location-based service providers with products such as mobile apps and analytical tools. Its success attracted an external investment of $3.5m in 2010.

9.      Data used together with technology can also improve productivity, which is an important priority for all of us in Singapore. The Singapore Real Estate Exchange is one such service. By using Government’s land data, the service enables property agents to get real-time, comparable sales and rental transactions. Agents can also use this service to manage their listings, networks and transactions. This helps them to save time and money.

10.      The availability of government data in the hands of creative yet responsible developers has created novel services that society can enjoy. With the release of transport and weather data, we are able to enjoy excellent local apps such as SGBuses which ensure that we never miss our bus ride, while WeatherLah allows us to plan activities according to the weather.

11.      We want to continue to improve our public service delivery, but we cannot do it alone. The Government does not always have the best ideas. As you can see, the examples of apps I listed earlier, were all created by developers. We need to work with all of you to find solutions to the problems we have today and improve our quality of life for tomorrow.

Apps4SG Competition

12.      The Singapore Government has launched a few initiatives in support of our “Open Data” efforts. Most of you are familiar with and One Map. To date, we have published over 8,000 datasets on the portal and over 50 map layers and themes on One Map. More data will be published over the next few months. At the same time, we have organised several initiatives such as the Ideas4apps Challenge and a Call for Collaboration with the industry last year to drive co-creation using government data.

13.      The ideas that we have seen are inspiring. I am therefore pleased to announce that the Government will be launching our very own App Competition – Apps4SG, today. The criterion for participation is simple. All we want is a working application of either an online service or mobile app featuring the use of at least one government dataset.

14.      All apps created from PlugFest can be submitted as well. To help seed ideas for this competition, we will also be organising a hack-a-thon in June. I hope that all of you will participate in these activities and go on to create more useful and interesting apps for Singaporeans. More details of the competition can be found on our portal.

15.      I understand that there are a few venture capitalists in the audience today. I hope you are equally excited about these new apps and will continue to support the good work of our developers. This is an exciting year for developers, entrepreneurs and Government alike. I look forward to seeing more innovative apps from all of you.

Thank you.