Exclusive: New identity system the “prerequisite” for a digital economy, says Balakrishnan

Smart Nation Minister launches new plan to train 10,000 government data scientists.

A new digital identity system is a “prerequisite” for Singapore’s digital economy, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation initiative, has exclusively told GovInsider. “You need to have an accessible and secure digital identity in order to enable the digital economy,” he said today. Digital identity, e-payments and a nationwide sensor network are the three signature programmes for the Smart Nation programme this financial year, he added. Balakrishnan opened the IoT Asia 2017 show, and announced a new training partnership between Singapore’s GovTech Agency and the National University of Singapore. The partnership will enable the training of 10,000 public servants in data science skills over the next five years. “This is so that we can improve the way we measure performance; the way we package new services; the way we deliver and improve government services,” he said. “It’s not just about technology, but it’s about making sure we are on the bleeding edge.” The Minister-in-charge of Smart Nation warned that Singapore’s middle class faces significant economic disruption. He said that the “heart” of the Smart Nation initiative is building “a new middle class that has the skills, capabilities and abilities to harvest the fruits of these technologies and thereby generate good jobs with good wages”. Image from Dr Vivian Balakrishnan's Facebook page