You are part of Team GovTech
What does the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) have in common with a flock of starlings?
Well, more than you would think.
(Factcheck: A starling is a type of songbird.)
“All of the starlings move independently, but they do work together synergistically to achieve a common goal,” said Ms Jacqueline Poh, CEO of GovTech, at the launch of the newly-formed agency on 7 October 2016 at The Star Performing Arts Centre.
She went on to add that like starlings, GovTech is not a “lone ranger”; Instead, the agency hopes to work closely with citizens, businesses and civil servants from other public agencies to improve on the Singapore story, and build a better Singapore for Singaporeans.
“Our mission today is empowering our nation with possibilities through technology.”
Ms Poh elaborated: “Who is GovTech? Many of you may not know this, but we play a critical role in the 3,000 ICT systems in the government; the 600 services serving 5.5 million users; working together with about 1,750 professionals throughout the 99 agencies of the Singapore government, in one way or another.”
And by collaborating with each of those entities, GovTech intends to accomplish its mission through three elements: digital disruption; harnessing the Smart Nation initiative and digital government; and growing capabilities and strengthening partnerships.
Proactively Harnessing Technology
“We think that digital disruption is an opportunity for Singapore, and that the fourth industrial revolution has provided technology that can transform the human condition,” Ms Poh said.
“We believe that the Singapore Government needs to be proactive, not reactive, in placing strategic bets on the transformative potential of technology to secure our future.”
One way to be proactive is to be very practical about GovTech’s focus on applied technology: developing solutions for citizens, not technology for technology’s sake, she noted.
By looking at how to meet the user needs of each citizen, business and public service officers, GovTech will operate on the frontier of emerging technology, governing standards in this particular space to achieve efficiency, value for money and greater interoperability of systems.
In terms of collaboration and co-creation, smart citizen platforms are possibly one of the areas that GovTech has the most work to do.
“Developing such platforms requires us to do something very different as a government, and that is not to provide everything ourselves, but to really work and harness the energy of a new generation of tinkerers, makers and civic-minded citizens,” Ms Poh said.
GovTech will do so by rolling out open cloud-based platforms, which will make available open data and embedded APIs.
“We’re in very early stages, but there’s lots of potential.”
Bringing the focus back to the brains behind GovTech, she noted that the individuals gathered at the launch included the people who make up the backbone of the agency.
“Here we have the people who maintain the servers, do the infrastructure, create the applications, play around with the emerging technology and Internet of Things, and build the Smart Nation Platform. In this room, we have the ladies who long ago, coded the healthcare system from scratch.”
She also paid tribute to the many GovTechies who have contributed tremendously to fellow Government agencies.
“We have the people who developed systems in many other agencies, and we would like to celebrate all of your efforts today.”