How do you use technology to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

I am a data scientist with the Data Science Group, part of the Government Digital Services unit under GovTech. Our aim is to help government agencies advance evidence-based approaches to policy making, with data at their fingertips. We distill insights from data to inform policy changes and reviews. We also build platforms and tools to enable agencies to harness advanced analytical methods, such as text mining and network analysis.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2016?

I am working on the Pulse of The Economy initiative, which analyses high-frequency, non-traditional data sets to nowcast economic activity. For example, we look at electricity consumption and public transport data to infer production and employment in industrial estates. This enables more timely economic policy interventions.

I am also working on building network analysis platforms for fraud detection. The challenge is to identify bad behaviour in a system of interacting agents. There is often a high volume of highly connected data. To understand the structure underlying the system, we map and analyse relationship patterns between agents over time. To illustrate, by modelling the strength of relationships, we identify the most influential agents, or discover groups of agents that behave similarly. This allows us to identify potential bad actors, which we flag out to government agencies. I have a passion for network analytics, and it has been exciting to help agencies tap on its power.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2017?

I’m interested in further exploring Apache Spark in the coming year. Apache Spark is a fast, powerful engine for large-scale data processing.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2016, what would it be?

Keep an open mind, and take every opportunity to learn something new!

Who is your hero and why?

I am grateful to Mr. William Scheide, who sponsored my college education at Princeton University. He gave me an opportunity to grow and to explore, both intellectually and personally, without asking for anything in return. I am inspired by his generosity, and hope to pay it forward.

And finally, if you could recommend us one place to eat, where would it be?

I recommend Corner House, situated in Singapore’s Botanical Gardens. It is a charming restaurant nestled in lush greenery, and the cod dish is fantastic!