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Technology Digital Transformation 5G

5G and enhanced data protection: Singapore maps out plans for a digital-ready future


By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

July 1, 2019 | 7 min read

The Singapore Government announced a slew of new initiatives over the course of last week as part of its annual smart nation week, which gives the industry an inside-look at the city-state’s progress in becoming an innovative nation.

The Digital Industry Singapore (DISG) office

The new office will bring together 45 existing officers from the Economic Development Board (EDB), Enterprise Singapore and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to collaborate in industry development, market access, capability development and policy formulation

According to S Iswaran, the minister for communications and information, the government wants DISG to unlock value between the public and private sectors, and transform the way the Singapore government engages with the technology sector as it serves as a single interface for the industry.

Singapore hopes the streamlined approach will enable DISG to better understand technology firms and find future leaders and talent through 10,000 new jobs within the industry over the next three years.

To do this, DSIG will create a public-private partnership model and tapping the combined resources and levers of government agencies overseeing industry development and regulations.

It also wants to become the first stop for digital industry-related matters and will work with companies across the spectrum of enterprise needs, such as to secure talent and market access, build capabilities, and internationalise.

DISG will collaborate with industry and relevant government agencies to create future-ready policies and guide investments in areas such as data, talent, trade and digital infrastructure.

Commenting on the new office, Renzo Taal, the head of Asia and senior vice president for APAC at Salesforce, said: “Singapore’s development in the tech space is a true testament to how the power of technology will bring a new wave of jobs – jobs that will be bigger and better, harnessing the best of human skills and creativity. AI will be a major driving force of this job creation as humans and machines work closely in the digital workplace.”

“Apart from an increased volume of jobs, we believe that we’ll see new work categories emerge as a result. Jobs like AI auditor and digital transformation specialist, for example, will be common job titles of the future.”

“In anticipation of these jobs of the future in the coming years, this also emphasizes the importance of reskilling. By 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re-and upskilling – and as businesses, we need to be able to craft robust lifelong learning systems and invest in our people, and collaborate closely across industries and with the public sector in this new digital economy.”

Internationally, DISG will handle the Digital Economy Agreement (DEA), a new form of agreement between Singapore and countries who have similar digital economy aspirations.

The purpose of the DEA is to put in place international rules for greater interoperability between digital frameworks, to guard against digital and data barriers, and address newer areas such as AI and digital identities.

For example, the DEA will help Singapore in its trilateral talks on a Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) with Chile and New Zealand, as well as with Australia.

Singapore Statement on Co-creating a Connected Digital Future in the Asia-Pacific

The statement by the 32 members and associate members, who are all government ministers, of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), sets out the vision of a connected digital future through the development of telecommunication / ICT in the Asia Pacific region.

It also set out five new strategic goals to guide efforts to build a connected digital future in APAC.

1) Improving telecommunication/ICT connectivity and access for citizens and businesses so as to accelerate the digital transformation of the economy and society.

2) Creating an environment which is conducive for digital innovation and creativity, by introducing policies and frameworks that encourage emerging technologies.

3) Making telecommunication/ICT accessible to everyone, from the unserved and underserved geographical regions and people from vulnerable groups and to embrace diversity, through inclusive policies and the development of reliable telecommunication/ICT infrastructure.

4) Encouraging trusted and secured systems which promote the protection of data privacy, facilitate the free and secure flow of information, and are resilient towards cyber threats.

5. Building the digital literacy and skills of all citizens so that they will be well-equipped to work collaboratively.


The IMDA and the National Research Foundation (NRF) has set aside S$40 million to build an open and inclusive 5G Innovation ecosystem to support 5G technology trials for enterprise use-cases, create a series of new open testbeds, and research and development in 5G tech like cybersecurity.

For a start, the money will be used in maritime operations, urban mobility, smart estates, Industry 4.0, consumer and government applications to reinforce Singapore’s goal to be a global front-runner in 5G.

For example, the IMDA is working with telcos Singtel and M1 to explore the use of 5G technology for the maritime industry to address the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA)’s connectivity needs to enhance port productivity.

The trials will be conducted at the PSA Living Lab in Pasir Panjang Terminal from the third quarter of 2019 and will last for 18 months.

Another collaboration underway is the deployment of 5G at Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) in Jurong Innovation District, to integrate 5G with technologies such as Internet-of-Things and artificial intelligence.

“5G technology is set to redefine communication speed and capacity in Singapore and when inter-played with IoT and AI, we expect new business processes, models and growth opportunities to emerge and supercharge our digital economy,” said Taal.

“At the same time, these changes require that we ensure that our workforce is able to transition and embrace change in the most productive and positive way. New technologies will enhance jobs, not replace them.

“At Salesforce, we encourage companies to have a learner's mind and provide free platforms for their staff to learn, unlearn and relearn, to prepare for job description changes in this Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will enable them to continue to retrain themselves throughout their lives and thrive in the technology-augmented workplaces of the future."

Trusted Data Sharing Framework

IMDA and the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) announced the Trusted Data Sharing Framework to facilitate data sharing between organisations.

According to the IMDA, organisations are currently facing a for data sharing, which leads to a lack of trust with partners when sharing data and failure to comply with regulations such as the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

In addition, it hopes the Framework will help organisations value the data assets they currently have and address concerns that data sharing could result in a loss of business competitiveness or exposure of trade secrets.

To do this, the Framework will establish a set of baseline practices by providing a common ‘data-sharing language’ and suggest a systematic approach to the broad considerations for establishing trusted data sharing partnerships.

It will also incorporate content from existing PDPC guides on personal data anonymisation and sharing, as well as introduce a guide to data valuation for data sharing and sample legal templates to enable contractual data sharing.

Technology Digital Transformation 5G

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