Singapore’s new Government Technology Organisation will have an “expanded mandate to grow new technology capabilities”, Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said, announcing details on what GTO will do

It will look at how artificial intelligence can improve productivity. “Virtual assistants can help to free up scarce manpower to do other important work,” he said, like “building up the most common questions posed which we then use to improve our policies and processes”.

It will look for how Big Data can help to understand citizens’ needs and find the best ways for the government to meet them.

The agency will implement the country’s Smart Nation initiative, including deploying a network of sensors called the Smart Nation Platform to collect data from across the island.

In addition, the agency will grow engineering talent in the civil service to “help public agencies realise the capabilities to build a Smart Nation”, the Minister said.

Singapore is restructuring the Infocomm Development Authority into two agencies – GTO and the Info-communications and Media Development Authority.

GTO will take over all functions of the IDA’s Government Chief Information Office, Minister Yaacob said. This includes “providing enterprise IT solutions to over 90 government agencies, governing ICT standards within public agencies and coordinating the 3-year ICT masterplans across government for more effective procurement of ICT services”.

The agency will also be responsible for securing digital government services against attacks. “GTO will be well-placed to provide robust and cyber-resilient IT services for the government”, he said.

While IDA’s startup space BASH will go to IMDA, GTO will have its own startup-like space for civil servants called The Hive where engineers and programmers will build new apps with other agencies.