If the Philippines needs a role model on how ICT can serve as a catalyst and major tool for economic development, it only has to look at neighboring country Singapore, which has just launched an ambitious plan to become the world?s first ?Smart Nation.?
The island-state is executing this national strategy through its main ICT agency, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). Leading the charge is a former top regional executive of storage firm EMC Corp., Steve Leonard, who has been appointed by the Singaporean government as deputy executive chairman of the IDA.
Leonard stressed that the Smart Nation agenda is not merely a marketing slogan and will not be bound by a timetable. ?We want to create a mindset of innovation, so we can get various parts of the government to work,? he said.
The Smart Nation plan, according to the IDA, envisions a ?fuller use of technology to live, work and play, resulting in improved quality of life for individuals, business opportunities for enterprises, and an anticipatory government that uses technology to better serve and anticipate citizens? needs.?
To support the mammoth undertaking, the IDA announced at a recent event in Hotel Fort Canning in Singapore a number of initiatives meant to boost the data ecosystem as it emphasized that data and analytics will play a critical role in the Smart Nation implementation.
Among the key programs unveiled during the event was the pilot roll-out of the Data-as-a-Service (DaaS), which seeks to address the challenge of discovering datasets in the private sector through a federated approach.
According to the IDA, there is currently no coherent mechanism for users to easily discover private sector datasets made available from data providers across various industry sectors.
The DaaS pilot, which last till March 31, 2016, will enable data providers from all industries to increase the visibility of their datasets and reach out to new customers.
To help kick-start the pilot, IDA also signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide cloud computing services worth $3,000 to each to the first 25 data providers when they sign on to the pilot.
The IDA and SAP likewise signed a two-year strategic collaboration wherein the German software firm will work with IDA alongside institutes of higher learning and industry partners to develop local manpower capabilities in Big Data and analytics among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups.
In addition, SAP will provide technology expertise and counsel, as well as assist in identifying capability gaps in the local ICT sector. SAP will also provide access to hardware and software as part of the collaboration for development of proof-of-concepts and pilot projects on Smart Nation with IDA and government agencies.
Also a vital component of the Smart Nation strategy is an accelerator program, which invests and incubates start-ups from all over the region. There are, in fact, two tech start-ups from the Philippines ? Kallfly and Codetoki ? who are now under incubation.
Kallfly is an on-demand virtual contact center marketplace which connects businesses with experienced home-based call center agents. Instead of contracting with a traditional call center, businesses can allocate resources through Kallfly?s website to allow call center agents to work from home using their laptops or phones.
Codetoki, on the other hand, is a gamified test platform that transforms traditional job requirements into badged achievements, in the form of tests, in-browser code challenges, and test projects. This enables applicants to know exactly what skills they need to have to qualify for a job.
Dr. Alex Lin, head of IDA subsidiary Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL), said the agency plays a crucial role in accelerating the development of start-ups in their formative phase by investing further as they move towards growth and expansion.
?We?re operating the accelerator program much like a business. Their projects must have viability — both financially and technologically,? he said.