SINGAPORE - Estate maintenance issues in Kampong Chai Chee are now solved in hours rather than days, thanks to a WhatsApp messaging group set up for that purpose.
Residents in the group send in pictures of problems. Maintenance staff follow up with photographs of the repair work.
Raising this example of what citizens can do with ordinary technology, Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan saw an important role for citizens in building a technology-driven Smart Nation.
But they must be given the data needed, he added yesterday.
"Citizens must be empowered and have access to information. The Government will need to create the environment for this to take place."
The groundwork has been laid with the Open Data initiative, with over 8,000 government datasets available on the Data.gov.sg website. Since 2011, more than 130 apps have been created with such data.
Praising this initiative, Mr Lee added: "We will continue to see what we can do to facilitate the Government's efforts to share more data."
Such openness will help citizens and businesses "develop innovative solutions to improve the experience of city living".
But the impact will not just be on how we live and play. The information revolution and the rise of massive datasets known as Big Data will also create jobs and change business practices, Mr Lee said. For instance, the rise of e-commerce will create demand for logistic companies, warehousing, IT analysts and delivery workers.
"We will need to prepare our PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) with the right skill sets as Big Data changes our industries," he said.
Telecommunication companies with mobile networks are also sitting on "information goldmines".
For instance, with their ability to track shoppers, these firms could advise mall operators on the pattern of consumer traffic.
Big Data will also be useful in industries such as transport, health care, education and hospitality, he said.
And the Government can tap Big Data too, such as by analysing feedback received through apps.
This, he said, "will help our government agencies develop a holistic view, anticipate trends and requests, and adapt accordingly so we stay ahead of the curve."
This article was first published on May 28, 2014.
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