From Hong Kong to Hive
She came, she saw, and she concurred after visiting GovTech — that there were opportunities for technology exchanges and collaboration between Hong Kong and Singapore.
We are talking about the visit by to Singapore and in particular, GovTech Hive, by Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Mrs Carrie Lam, on Thursday, 3 Aug.
She had wanted to understand Singapore’s efforts in using digital technologies and data science for the public good, and GovTech Hive was an ideal place to do so.
Mrs Lam, who was elected in March this year, is one of the most senior foreign dignitaries that Hive has hosted. She was in Singapore at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong — and it was her very first official overseas trip, in fact.
GovTech was among the three public agencies, including the Civil Service College (CSC) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), that had the privilege of hosting Ms Lam.
During the visit, Minister-in-charge of GovTech, Dr Janil Puthucheary, joined GovTech Deputy Chief Executive Chan Cheow Hoe in welcoming Ms Lam and her entourage to Hive.
Dr Puthucheary gave a quick overview of GovTech’s role in Smart Nation and Digital Government, following our re-organisation under the Prime Minister’s Office.
Mr Chan presented on GovTech and the Smart Nation framework, as well as the “Government-as-a-platform” vision.
A key topic was Moments of Life, in which anticipatory micro-services can be pushed out to citizens at key moments in their life.
Another highlight of interest to the Hong Kong delegation was the National Trade Platform, a new digital trade platform that creates synergy between the trade and logistics sectors to enhance productivity and drive economic growth.
Mr Chan also listed examples of GovTech’s innovative ways in using applied technology, such as the myResponder app developed in collaboration with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SDCF).
The lifesaving app essentially crowd-sources for first aiders to respond to cardiac arrest incidents, with a secondary function being to build “stronger digital communities”.
Mr Chan also shared about the use of data science in public policy-making, with the Beeline smart mobility platform as an example — and how the formation of Hive contributed to the strengthening of the government’s digital capabilities.
Director of Government Digital Services Product Design and Development Mark Lim had the opportunity to host an impromptu tour of GovTech Hive for Mrs Lam, giving her a quick overview of the facilities including the Design Experience Lab, which conducts User Interface (UI) and Experience (UX) tests for new apps and digital services.
After the visit, Mrs Lam held a short media doorstop — a quick press conference — with the Hong Kong and Singapore media. She handled several quick-fire questions, including one about the motivation for her visit.
She said: “One of the purposes of my coming to Singapore and visiting the GovTech Hive is really to identify more opportunities for learning, exchange and collaboration. We have a similar set-up in Hong Kong in charge of information and technology, called the Innovation and Technology Bureau.”
(Editor: Hong Kong’s Innovation and Technology Bureau was established in 2015.)
Mrs Lam added: “I’m not a tech expert but I do feel that if we want to continue to stay competitive and to become a smart city, there is a huge potential for wider application of technologies. So I look forward to more exchanges and collaboration between Hong Kong and Singapore.”
The visit to Singapore appears to have inspired the Hong Kong delegation.
Several media publications including The Standard (Hong Kong) newspaper reported that Ms Lam, who started her term on 1 July, planned to establish an academy similar to Singapore’s CSC to train civil servants in skills from leadership to applying technology.
In addition, she reportedly said it should provide “more training for our civil servants, especially in areas like leadership, public participation, and application and use of technology.”
The Standard also reported that Mrs Lam is considering putting the information technology office under her own leadership, or under one of the Cabinet secretaries.
It’s exciting news for sure!
We thank Mrs Carrie Lam and her delegation for visiting GovTech Hive, and it was indeed a pleasure to have hosted her.