Singapore builds government-wide API platform

By Medha Basu

API Exchange will enable data sharing and quicker development of digital services.

Singapore’s GovTech agency is building an API platform for data sharing across the government, it has been announced.

APIs or application programming interfaces allow agencies to share their data and infrastructure with other agencies, enabling them to reuse these resources to build new services.

GovTech’s API Exchange (APEX) will centrally manage and monitor the security of all the APIs used across agencies. It is being built with the Ministry of Finance and will be rolled out to the entire government this year.

“We want to enable data to be shared across domains and agencies, so we can harness the greater value of data, and unlock a greater future potential from the data,” said Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Communications and Information, at the budget debate yesterday.

It will allow more rapid development of systems and applications without having to rewire the backend, the Ministry of Communications and Information says. For example, the government’s OneService app, which allows citizens to submit complaints, was built using APIs within six months.

An “API gateway” directs the complaints to the right agencies that will keep the users updated. The alternative to this was to build a brand new system to combine data stored across different agencies.

That would have taken “take two years, cost tens of millions of dollars, and with no guarantee it’s going to succeed”, Chan Cheow Hoe, Government Chief Information Officer, told GovInsider.