How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.
I have had a few roles in the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) where our mission is to harness the power of technology for the benefit of Singapore. In my current role in GovTech’s Strategic Planning and International Division, I study developments in Digital Government and Smart Cities. I also engage international organisations to learn more about some best practices in these areas.
I use these insights for strategic planning efforts to propose how we could better organise ourselves as a Digital Government, or how we could better shape Singapore’s Digital Government initiatives. In my previous roles in GovTech (previously known as the Infocomm Development Authority), I managed the data.gov.sg Programme to enable more government agencies to share Open Data and APIs. I also engaged developers to use the data/APIs to create apps and other solutions.
What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2018?
Without a doubt, launching the Digital Government Blueprint (DGB) was a highlight for me in 2018. The DGB will chart the way for the next 5 years at least. The Blueprint has committed the government to some ambitious targets that will enable us to deliver better services to our customers, and I am excited to see how this will have a positive impact.
In addition, I volunteer with the Codette Project (an initiative that aims to enable more minority women to get into the tech industry), and this year, we organised Singapore’s First Women-Only Hackathon. It was exciting to be part of a project that empowers women to step forward and work on ‘Tech for Good’ solutions!
If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2018, what would it be?
Go for it! Tech moves too fast and we shouldn’t be afraid to put forward ideas on how we can use tech to make things better right now. Don’t wait for ideas to be fully developed or wait for someone’s approval. Put forward some thoughts first, prototype and learn along the way. This was what we did with the Digital Government Blueprint. In a short time, the team proposed what could be the best way forward and continued to iterate the Blueprint with input from various parties along the way.
”Don’t wait for ideas to be fully developed or wait for someone’s approval.”
What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2019?
AI intrigues me, and not in the big bang, “taking over humans” way. I think AI could have a good impact on our lives in the simplest of ways. I just saw how my Gmail account has in-built AI features that remind me to follow-up on an email that I had sent out four days ago! Imagine how useful it would be if other uses of AI could pervade to other parts of our lives.
”AI intrigues me, and not in the big bang, “taking over humans” way.”
What is one skill that has helped you the most throughout the course of your career?
My advice would be to seek opportunities to do something that makes you uncomfortable. That’s the only way to learn and grow as an individual. I have taken part in initiatives that I’ve not done before. One experience that stood out was GovTech’s Innovation Challenge in 2017.
My team worked on an app that enables the user to test their core strength by placing the mobile device on their back while doing a plank. The aim was to be able to engage, educate and modify behaviours so that more people would be aware of the need to maintain a strong core (we found that your core strength is increasingly important the older you get and is not necessarily reflected in your physique!). My team won third prize and it was quite an experience; we learnt some design thinking skills, how to prototype, conduct business value mapping and eventually pitch the app in a limited time.
Coffee, yoga, music… what powers you through your day?
Blasting music in the car and singing like nobody’s watching is a great way to de-stress!