Building the Foundations for Our Digital Future
A longstanding priority of the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) is to ensure Singapore maintains a strong foundation to enable our people and businesses to seize opportunities brought about by digital developments. As technology and digitalisation needs evolve, we are enhancing the underlying digital infrastructure that powers digital services and applications, and building up a strong research and innovation ecosystem to continuously uncover the value of emerging technologies.
Digital Connectivity Blueprint: Planning and investing in future-ready digital infrastructure
MCI is developing a Digital Connectivity Blueprint to outline the way forward for Singapore’s connectivity infrastructure. This includes our broadband, mobile, and WiFi networks that provide domestic connectivity, as well as subsea cables that provide international connectivity. The Blueprint will also identify synergies with other digital infrastructure components that complement this connectivity layer, like data centres and digital utilities. The Blueprint is slated to be launched later this year.
The future-oriented approach which the Blueprint will be premised on is consistent with how the Government and our industry partners have approached digital infrastructure investments over the years. One example is our investment in the nationwide fibre broadband network back in the mid-2000s, which now enables services like online collaboration, e-learning, and High-Definition entertainment. More recently, Singapore’s 5G standalone networks are bearing early fruit in the form of use cases in sectors such as manufacturing. Refer to Annex B-1 for details on these newly awarded 5G use cases.
Advisory Panel on Digital Infrastructure
To support and advise on the Digital Connectivity Blueprint, MCI has formed an Advisory Panel on Digital Infrastructure comprising business and industry leaders. The Panel will be co-chaired by Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Dr Janil Puthucheary, and Executive Vice President of Global Operations at Western Digital Mr Irving Tan. The members of the panel are listed in the table below:
Name Current Designation Janil Puthucheary (Co-Chair) Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Irving Tan (Co-Chair) Executive Vice President, Global Operations, Western Digital Amit Midha President, APAC & Japan and Global Digital Cities, Dell Technologies Keat Chuan Yeoh Chief Executive Officer, TEMUS Maya Hari Chief Executive Officer, Terrascope Raymond Choong Venture Partner, Focustech Ventures Soon Ghee Chua Senior Partner, Kearney Wai Meng Wong Chief Executive Officer, Keppel Data Centres; Chairman, SGTech
MCI will seek the panel’s insights on:
a. Plans to develop Singapore’s digital infrastructure, including from the angles of business and technical viability and international competitiveness.
b. Global and domestic trends and developments that could affect future business and consumer demand for digital infrastructure, and could hence factor into plans for infrastructure and use case development.
Enhancing capabilities in research and innovation to advance Singapore’s digital edge
Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) remains a cornerstone of Singapore’s development into a knowledge-based, innovation-driven economy and society. The RIE 2025 plan builds on the progress of previous RIE investments, as science and technology (S&T) continues to be key to Singapore’s ability to address national needs, prepare for future challenges, and generate new opportunities for growth. Under the RIE 2025 plan, the Smart Nation and Digital Economy (SNDE) domain seeks to develop technology leadership to drive our Smart Nation ambition and anchor Singapore’s position as a trusted digital innovation hub.
For example, in Artificial Intelligence, Singapore has internationally recognised research strengths. Singapore is ranked among the top 10 in the world in AI for Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision publications, based on SciVal publication data (2012-2021). AI Singapore’s AI Speech Lab has achieved significant improvements such as being able to more accurately understand Singapore’s spoken colloquial languages and in noisy environments. The research outcomes have been applied in the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s helpline call centre and the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s telephone services.
Upcoming or recent initiatives to enhance local capabilities and build new partnerships include:
a. The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) and National Research Foundation (NRF) will launch dedicated calls for AI Investigatorships in the coming months. The investigatorships are targeted at top-tier AI researchers who, in the course of their research, can also mentor and groom other promising talent.
b. AI Singapore runs the Open Theme Technology Challenge to support the application of AI to address economic or societal needs. To encourage collaborations with industry and build up industry R&D capabilities, AI Singapore will enhance the scheme to allow co-funding of R&D activities in industry. The latest call launched in end February.
c. The Future Communications Connectivity Lab (FCCLab) at the Singapore University of Technology and Design was launched in Sep 2022. The FCCLab, which seeks to accelerate cutting-edge research of future communications technologies such as 6G, is part of the S$70 million Future Communications R&D Programme (FCP) supported by NRF and IMDA.
d. Companies are encouraged to develop innovative solutions to address specific challenges, such as in the field of cybersecurity. Under CSA’s Cybersecurity Industry Call for Innovation (aka CyberCall)1, local company MicroSec developed a solution to secure low-powered IoT devices, and deployed this to around 16,000 home devices such as smart sockets in the HDB Punggol Northshore Project.
e. Internationally, Singapore and South Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on AI in Dec 2022, facilitating bilateral AI research and information exchange, and experiences in promoting the responsible use of AI. The National Quantum Office also signed an MOU with three research entities in Finland in Aug 2022 to explore R&D collaborations in quantum technologies.
CSA’s Cybersecurity Industry Call for Innovation (aka CyberCall) invites companies to develop innovative solutions to address cybersecurity challenge statements. ↩