Panel releases S'pore infocomm media roadmap

AFTER two years of deliberations, the private sector-led steering committee has come up with a plan for building a globally competitive infocomm media ecosystem in Singapore - one that both enables and complements the nation's ambitions to become a "Smart Nation".

The committee's Infocomm Media 2025 (IMM) report, released on Tuesday, spells out the broad way forward for the infocomm and media sectors for the coming decade.

It also aims to help in economic and social transformation and allow for the creation of enriching and compelling local content.

Accepting the report, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said it charts the direction Singapore should take to ensure it stays at the forefront of innovation.

He added that he was confident that the recommendations will enable Singapore to harness the power of infocomm media to bring about impactful outcomes for the nation and enhance the quality of life here.

"Realising the recommendations of Infocomm Media 2025 will require the participation of the public, private and people sector - to spark new ideas, to break new ground and to make Singapore a better place for all," he said.

The report comprises three broad strategic thrusts for the infocomm and media sectors:

Building on the power of data and data insights, advanced communications and computational technologies to catalyse a series of transformations across key sectors of the economy;

Developing a future-ready workforce and businesses which embrace risk-taking and innovation; and

Deploying infocomm media technologies in a people-centric manner to improve various aspects of everyday life.

The report supports the development of a "Total Audience Measurement" system to gather data across all media-related platforms - film, television, publications, social media and even games - and integrate this information to form a holistic view on how audiences are consuming media.

The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) believes this will enable the media industry in Singapore to stay ahead of constantly evolving trends in consumer behaviour.

Under IMM's strategy to nurture the creation of more innovative and competitive Singapore content, MDA is to set up a Story Lab, a facility to bring together talent of different backgrounds, incubate original story ideas and explore innovative ways to tell stories across all media platforms.

The Story Lab's programmes will be open to students, emerging talent, members of the public and media professionals (from writers to producers and distributors).

But in order the realise the transformational effect of these recommendations, the report stresses the importance of a workforce that is ready to create and benefit from the transformations to come.

The IMM thus recommends building up the Singapore core through customised manpower-development programmes aligned with the SkillsFuture initiative.

The recommendations include developing computational thinking as a national capability, and open and accelerated-learning programmes for infocomm professionals to meet immediate and emerging demands for new skills such as big-data analytics.

Meanwhile, infocomm media technologies will be deployed in a people-centric manner in several spheres of life - from the managing of health to the deepening of learning and enhancing of the organising of community efforts.

Initiatives such as Smart Health Assist can enable the elderly and patients with chronic illnesses to proactively monitor their health at home, the report said; smart-education technologies such as immersive media can make learning more participatory and visceral.

The steering committee acknowledged that, in order to realise the vision presented in the report, stronger linkages between research and industry will be needed.

It noted the need to invest in strategic infocomm media R&D (research and development) and recommended six key areas for research - cyber security and trust, communications, cognition, high-performance computing, analytics and interfaces.

The IMM report recognises that some of the possibilities envisaged cannot happen unless existing policies and regulations are reviewed; this will entail government ministries being willing to consider how technology can be harnessed to transform the sectors they oversee.

It suggested that the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the MDA review and, where necessary, reorganise their work processes and industry development plans, to facilitate the execution of the recommendations of the report.

Koh Boon Hwee, who chaired the IMM steering committee, said Singapore has proven to be a good consumer of technology, but that it also needed to be as good in the innovative and creative aspects of it.

He called for the creation of new enterprises and an eco-system that nurtures startups. "The ICT sector will change dramatically over time. Big data requires whole new areas of expertise.

These are new skills we need to have. We will get some of them from recruiting overseas, but we need to create on our own. We need to be able to think computationally."

He added that the steering committee believed that technology can be harnessed to bring communities together and to connect them - which is important as Singapore becomes more diverse.

"In summary, I want to say we cannot predict what technology will come and what we will require. The Infocomm Media 2025 is like a living document which would allow us the flexibility to respond to changes that will come," he added.

This article was first published on August 12, 2015.
Get The Business Times for more stories.