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Singapore is looking to shore up its expertise in data analytics and cyber security as part of efforts to build strong digital capabilities in its economy.
The clarion call was made by the government-led Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) in a comprehensive roadmap aimed at keeping Singapore on its toes amid an uncertain global economy and rapid technological change.
In particular, the CFE called for the government to support the development of digital capabilities such as applied data analytics by setting up joint laboratories with industry players. Such partnerships can promote innovation and help train data scientists.
It also suggested using National Service – Singapore’s conscription programme – to develop deep, niche skills in cyber security among full-time National Servicemen, given the strategic importance of cyber security to the economy as well as national security.
In fact, efforts to develop deep capabilities in cyber security and data analytics are well under way.
For example, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore has been partnering industry players such as Singtel and institutions such as Nanyang Polytechnic and the Singapore Institute of Technology to build a talent pipeline for Singapore’s cyber security industry.
Similarly, the Infocomm Media Development Authority has been running training initiatives to build a talent pool for data analytics. These include online courses on data science and analytics, as well as company-led training programmes.
Helping small companies go digital
With Singapore’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) bearing the brunt of talent shortages and rising business costs, more support will be provided to help SMEs adopt digital technologies, which can help to increase productivity and create new revenue opportunities.
“Impactful pilot projects should be supported to encourage adoption of emerging digital solutions that have the potential to scale,” the CFE said. “These pilot projects should test new technologies that can help SMEs increase sales or reduce their reliance on manpower.”
To increase the pace of digital adoption, the CFE also called for national-level digital platforms and infrastructure to connect different players and encourage greater collaboration and innovation.
For example, the National Trade Platform, when ready in 2018, will digitise the transactions of trading companies, and generate data streams that can be analysed to glean business insights.
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With data being the lifeblood of modern businesses, there is a growing need to develop Singapore’s ability to make the best use of data. To that end, the CFE recommended that the government establish a dedicated programme office to encourage adoption of data assets and spur flagship data science projects in key industries.
It also called for the government to enhance the collection and supply of data, particularly data with economic value, by compiling additional statistics and using new sources of data for better analytics.
Some of this is already being done through the use of publicly available datasets from public agencies and using technology to facilitate data submission by the general public, the CFE said.
More data will also be shared with the private sector so that more innovations can be created.
“We will need to balance this carefully with privacy and security concerns,” the CFE said. “Within the government, structures already exist to encourage data sharing. For instance, data.gov.sg is a one-stop portal that provides access to open data from 70 public agencies.”
The Singapore Business Federation welcomed the CFE’s recommendations, which have been accepted by the government. .........................................................................................................