Commentary: To profit Singaporeans, Smart Nation should leverage large information, defeat privateness issues


SINGAPORE: As we head into the final 3rd of 2017, it has grow to be distinct that 1 of the putting themes chopping across countrywide-degree discussions this calendar year is the deliberate will need for Singapore to truly demand ahead in becoming a Smart Nation.

Amid the various applications of Smart Nation, the 1 that ought to attraction to most Singaporeans is the ambition to harness digital technological know-how and leverage large information to realise a nation wherever people today reside significant and fulfilled life, and produce choices for ourselves past what we consider attainable.

In his current Nationwide Working day message delivered previous week, Primary Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke of “analysing large information to enhance public services”.

Most of the concerns filed by our Customers of Parliament for the Committee of Offer discussion before this calendar year highlighted this important part of Smart Nation and emphasised five essential domains in which digital technological know-how “can have a needle going impact”: Transportation, our households and the ecosystem, organization productivity (in tandem with safe but open information market), overall health and “enabled ageing”, and public sector products and services.

Even before, in advance of the Committee of Offer discussion, a report published by the Committee on the Potential Overall economy, and derived from deep exploration, dialogue and deliberation, strongly advised that Singapore recognise and utilise information, seeing information as a new engine of growth.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-Demand of the Smart Nation initiative, Vivian Balakrishnan, talking at the opening of InnovFest unBound 2016. (Picture: Nisha Karyn)

NOT Heading AS Quick

But, in the same Nationwide Working day message, Mr Lee highlighted that, “we will need to do significantly better” in our bid to produce a Smart Nation. This is not the very first time he has raised the obstacle. In a public dialogue organised by a undertaking cash business in February, Mr Lee said that:

For all our pushing, we definitely are not going as speedy we ought to.

The troubles are both of those governmental and societal in nature. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who is Minister-in-demand of the Smart Nation Programme Office experienced previously referred to a “fragmented infrastructure” that has impeded the realisation of a Smart Nation.

Media experiences have also highlighted the trouble of inter-company rivalry inside of the Authorities that has led to duplicative initiatives in the spots of digital systems and information analytics.

One of these experiences also highlighted that quite a few Singaporeans, especially our aged, deficiency the being familiar with of how our digital initiatives get the job done and what they are meant to realize.

Emblematically, the scenario of wise-dwelling trials that monitors the security of aged people in Yuhua gained important resistance to adoption for the reason that of misplaced worries in excess of privateness.

HDB flats in Yuhua estate. (Picture: HDB)

Improved Trust About USE OF Personal Data

New choices to centralise governmental initiatives, consolidate infrastructure, and teach our civil servants and the public on the relevance and mechanics of information science are essential methods to deliver Singapore back again on track to becoming a Smart Nation.

Even so, they will not be sufficient except countrywide discussions and initiatives thrust even more in 3 other connected spots. The very first location is how significantly have faith in the public has in how our personal information is collected, utilised and safeguarded.

In this regard, the announcement previous thirty day period on the proposed changes to the Personal Data Safety Act, which features generating it mandatory for organisations to expose information breaches to people when this sort of mishaps occur, is pivotal.

The intention to implement a Data Safety Trustmark Certification Plan to organisations that have attained it must also bolster public self esteem in Singapore’s over-all information protection requirements.

Businesses such as social enterprises and welfare organisations that share shopper data will have to do so in a clear and accountable manner that safeguards their customers’ passions.

Bigger SHARING OF Data

The next location is the sharing of information across all stakeholders in the public, private and civil domains.

Consolidation of infrastructure is element of the photo, but it is the purview of very good information science teaching to press house the place that large information only results in being truly effective and additional optimised when datasets can be shared to boost the effectiveness in the delivery of public products and services.

As 1 inspiring instance, the Ministry of Overall health (MOH), which has already adopted consent-primarily based information sharing with its partners this sort of as the CPF Board, is now equipped to prolong health care funding techniques and help from social employees to Singaporeans, primarily based on their Medisave balances, MediShield coverage and subsidy stages.

These kinds of an initiative not only eases MOH’s regulatory stress in administering health care funding techniques. It also enables this sort of a plan to find and cater to include additional recipients because their desires will be additional routinely assessed by the method.

Central Provident Fund Constructing. (File image: Calvin Oh)

Another encouraging instance is the Ministry of Social and Family members Development’s information sharing initiatives with Social Service Places of work, Family members Service Centres, Divorce Assistance Expert Businesses and the Early Childhood Progress Agency, in a bid to facilitate the extension of social products and services and Authorities help to people and families. This effort and hard work seeks to use shared information to create superior estimates and educated assessments. 

By creating smoother and additional seamless scenario management procedures, families who will need help the most are finding that help in a mission crucial manner.

Nonetheless, additional can be carried out. In addition to locating the take care of to do so, the upcoming task is to take care of the present structural complications posed by our present datasets.

SOCIAL Companies Web

Acquire for instance, the Social Service Web (SSNET), a new countrywide scenario management method for the social services sector jointly designed by the Ministry of Social and Family members Progress and the Infocomm Media Progress Authority. It permits services companies to superior coordinate the delivery of social help and social products and services to people and families in will need, through the sharing of data of company assessments, scenario notes and follow-ups.

Our country’s Social Service Places of work and Family members Service Centres profit from this sort of a system as they will have whole consciousness of the help extended to homes who will need help. They can then make sure that all those these homes get the assist they will need without the need of in excess of-catering or duplication of help initiatives amongst various organizations.

Even so, SSNET’s datasets and that of the Nationwide Electronic Overall health Document beneath MOH are unable to be integrated for the reason that of their distinct information structures.

These days, the information beneath both of those groups is being recorded differently, which means that this sort of datasets are unable to routinely be cross-referenced.

Heading ahead, there will be a will need to record all information in the same way or to utilise software that harmonise distinct information structures. Plainly, a conduit amongst the overall health and social sectors would allow better effectiveness and holistic treatment for people.

Patients will also benefit this sort of changes, wherever they experience tangible positive aspects. Our anecdotal evidence, in chatting with people, recommend that they benefit the sharing of information across various professional medical options this sort of hospital and polyclinics, if it sales opportunities to additional holistic treatment as well as improvements in security wherever issues like drug allergy symptoms and duplication of drug treatment plans are shared.

If drug allergy symptoms and mediation doses, together with health care provider notes, can be shared freely, people will never have to repeat these to a distinct health care provider. (Picture: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Detect Problems EARLY

The 3rd location relates to regardless of whether we can evolve from information sharing to predictive analytics. Intuitively, we know that there are correlations amongst the issues of personal finance, overall health, diet, relatives relations, work (or the loss of it), training and even criminality, amongst other individuals, that are mutually reflective of impending social complications.

The early identification of these complications through sensing styles and early warning indicators in large information, even if they very first manifest as weak alerts, can provide the basis for early mitigation and help by federal government organizations, social employees, and associates of the community. Predictive analytics can also optimise and goal initiatives by our countrywide social products and services, which could usually be overstretched.

In this regard, technological know-how can be a essential enabler.

Machine discovering or synthetic intelligence algorithms will allow us to uncover new behavioural styles continue to undiscovered by present computing abilities and statistical versions.

Even so, without the need of a concurrent thrust in innovation in the digital domain to unlock the genuine power of information, we may perhaps under no circumstances get there at the close-condition of predictive analytics and therefore, pre-emptive intervention.

Also, the fundamental issue of have faith in may perhaps appear to the fore if the topic of pre-emptive help is not framed proper. The dialogue of a opportunity trouble generated from the correlation amongst issues whose interactions keep on being unapparent without the need of sophisticated information analytics, can direct citizens to suspect that they are being invasively monitored.

If information in the social services sector can be matched with information in the overall health sector, then social organizations can recognize gaps in the welfare desires of needy homes with superior professional medical bills. (Picture: Wendy Wong)

An preliminary action to engendering simple have faith in and self esteem would be to create aggregated information for services preparing. This would clear away the fear of pinpointing people or certain homes and but provide ample information for preparing in a particular zone.

Even at this degree of information selection, better service preparing by our various organizations can be accomplished. Data collected at the estate or township degree can already create insights into regardless of whether the need for a certain social services are tilted to younger families, the aged or homes with unique desires for instance.

The core tenets of our Smart Nation initiative stand to transform the well-being and development of our modern society.

Affiliate Professor Atul Butte at Stanford University’s Faculty of Medicine, a well-acknowledged champion of large information put it well when he said that:

Hiding inside of all those mounds of information is knowledge that could adjust the everyday living of a individual, or adjust the entire world.

Singapore should concentration, additional than ever, on uncovering it jointly.

Dr Graham Ong-Webb is a exploration fellow at the Nanyang Technological University and formerly worked in a consultancy specialising in information analytics. Dr Ang Seng Bin is a marketing consultant, relatives medical doctor and chairman of both of those the board of College students Care Service and the board of Ang Mo Kio Family members Service Centre.



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