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Singapore to balance data sharing with security in its smart nation push

Zafirah Salim | Jan. 20, 2015
The Government is pushing public agencies to share more data to facilitate innovation and enhance citizens’ quality of life, but at the same time, it also has a responsibility to fend off potential criminals who may abuse the data.

Striving towards a Smart Nation vision, Singapore has to work on balancing data sharing - so people can enjoy better services - with fending off criminals who could steal these data.

Navigating potential minefields is fraught with challenges, particularly when it comes to regulation, said Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Programme Office at the Roundtable of Thought Leaders on Innovation in Cities meeting yesterday (Jan 19), according to a report by Straits Times.

The Government is currently pushing public agencies to share more data to facilitate innovation and enhance citizens' quality of life. On the other hand, it also has a duty to fend off potential criminals who may abuse the data, added Dr Balakrishnan.

The two-day event is organised by the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and brings together 90 leading thinkers from around the world to look at how big data can affect social behaviour and government policy.

In a separate online report by TODAY, Professor Chan Heng Chee, Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at SUTD, said she would like to see more open data and bureaucracies sharing data and analysis because of the emphasis on big data.

"It can certainly help entrepreneurs to develop businesses, [and] it certainly can help the academics who have to analyse policy. And across bureaucracies, if you have each other's data, you will be able to come to better solutions for problems," she added.

At the meeting, Dr Balakrishnan, who is also the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, also emphasised that the issue of data security is important. "What you will see over the next few months is we will be revamping the SingPass system to enhance its security. Even as we contemplate how to open up more databases, and how to promote the sharing of information, we have to pay careful attention to how to protect privacy through anonymising that data."

"We also have to be mindful that there are national security implications, and we have got to be very careful that you do not have sensitive data falling into the wrong hands," he added.

 

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