Parliament Sitting on 3 October 2017


*11. Mr Saktiandi Supaat: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) what is the progress on the initiative to roll out a big data sandbox in Singapore; (b) what is the prevalence of local businesses making use of big data to increase their competitiveness; (c) what measures will be implemented to encourage more local businesses, especially the traditional ones, to integrate big data in their business strategies. 


Data science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies can help companies use raw data to make better business decisions. Unfortunately, many local companies are not taking advantage of this potential. A study done by the Committee on the Future Economy showed that about a third of businesses have not adopted data analytics, and about 80% have not adopted AI.   Many of these businesses said that they lacked awareness and expertise to harness data science and AI, or were concerned about breaching data protection regulations.

Building Capabilities in SMEs

2 The government is addressing these barriers to adoption. First, we are making it easier for our SMEs to deploy such solutions. The Info- communications Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s SMEs Go Digital programme gives SMEs access to proven digital solutions to grow their businesses. These solutions come embedded with capabilities such as data analytics, cyber security and data protection. Over time, IMDA intends to raise the standards of these solutions with new technological capabilities such as AI. 

3 Several SMEs have successfully taken advantage of these solutions. For example, Poh Kim, a video retailer, has deployed Ishikawa’s video analytics solution to analyse its customer traffic, so as to optimise its operations and improve its marketing efforts. These have helped Poh Kim increase its revenue by 10%. I encourage Members to check out our #SMETowkay series showcasing SMEs, including Poh Kim Video, who have benefited from going digital. SMEs can contact their nearest SME Centres for advice on their digital needs. 

Encouraging Data Sharing

4 Second, we are bringing companies together to realise the value of sharing data. The IMDA established the Data Innovation Programme Office (DIPO) on 1 Apr 2017 to champion this effort. The DIPO has made encouraging progress. For instance, it is working with industry to scope problem statements through industry-led Data Collaboratives. These Data Collaboratives are essentially partnerships among businesses where the businesses identify a common business problem, and share data with one another to solve it. IMDA is finalising the implementation details, and will announce these when ready. 

Clarifying Regulation on Data Sharing

5 Third, we are reviewing our regulations on data sharing. There appears to be a misconception amongst businesses that the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) prohibits the sharing of personal data. This is inaccurate. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the Guide to Data Sharing that the PDPC released on 27 Jul 2017. This Guide seeks to provide clarity to businesses on how they can share personal data within and between organisations. The Guide also introduced a regulatory sandbox for personal data that exempts businesses from certain obligations under the PDPA under specific circumstances.

6 Thank you.

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