Singapore partners with Google Cloud to accelerate national AI strategy

By Yeo Zong Hao

The Singapore government has recently announced a wide-ranging set of partnerships with Google Cloud to steer the development of AI capabilities in the city-state. Here are three key initiatives to look forward to.

Leaders from key government agencies and Google Cloud announced a series of key partnerships at the Google Cloud Summit. From left to right: Vincent Loy, Ben King, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Karan Bajwa, Sherie Ng, Chan Cheow Hoe. Image: Google Cloud

On 31 May, the Singapore government announced the development of an Artificial Intelligence Government Cloud Cluster and plans to accelerate the country’s national AI strategy with Google Cloud, a leading cloud service provider, at the Google Cloud Summit.


At the summit, leaders from across key government agencies in Singapore, such as the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Ministry of Communications and Information, announced a series of agreements with Google Cloud aimed at nurturing the country’s AI ecosystem.


Artificial intelligence on the cloud 


Singapore’s Smart Nation and Digital Government Office and Google Cloud will be deploying the Artificial Intelligence Government Cloud Cluster (AGCC), which aims to boost AI capabilities in Singapore’s public sector. 


This platform is designed to accelerate AI adoption in Singapore's public sector, foster local research efforts in applied AI, and support the growth of the local AI startup ecosystem, said speakers at the event. 


“AI can shape the public sector’s digital service delivery in profound and meaningful ways – from automating data entry, to detecting fraud, to accelerating cancer research, to strengthening emergency response, to informing water resource management, and more,” said Sherie Ng, Country Director, Singapore, Google Cloud. 


The AGCC, hosted in a dedicated cloud computing environment in Singapore, will provide government agencies access to Google Cloud's AI solutions and extensive partner ecosystem. In turn, this will enable government agencies and private sector players to rapidly develop and deploy scalable and impactful AI applications that are secure, responsible, and cost-effective. 


For example, GovTech’s Open Government Products has integrated with Google Cloud’s Vertex AI, the cloud service provider’s machine learning platform. The experimental team recently developed Pair, a large language model that functions as a writing assistant for civil servants, a secure alternative to tools such as ChatGPT. 


Google Cloud will collaborate with GovTech to deepen data science and AI skills throughout the Singapore government with whole-of-government Digital Academy programs, highlighted press releases. These programs aim to reach over 150, 000 public officers across more than 50 statutory boards. 


“We look forward to working with GovTech to build a vibrant pool of homegrown talent across a range of AI-related roles in public service, to help advance Singapore’s national strategy for deploying scalable and responsible AI innovations,” shared Ng.


Government agencies will be able to access the AGCC from June 2023 through the Government on Commercial Cloud 2.0 platform. 


Enhancing generative AI capabilities 


Second, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Google Cloud have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly develop generative AI solutions and skills that are grounded in responsible practices. 


This partnership aims to encourage the development and use of responsible generative AI applications within the country’s central bank, while also focusing on cultivating in-house technologists with deep AI skill sets. Generative AI, which includes ChatGPT, refers to AI systems that can generate new content based on given prompts. 


“This allows us to explore potential use cases in our functions and operations that could harness generative AI while prioritising information security as well as data and AI model governance,” said Vincent Loy, Assistant Managing Director (Technology), MAS at the Summit. 


The partners plan to identify potential uses for generative AI within MAS’ digital services, and jointly create such responsible generative AI solutions.


Next, they plan to develop new applications that can strengthen MAS’ business operations.


Lastly, they will work together to train MAS technologists in the development of responsible generative AI. 


“We are now providing refreshed skilling programs, high-performance infrastructure, large language models, and other tools to help financial institutions deploy generative AI with ease and speed while protecting their data, applications, and users,” said Ng. 


“Our partnership will enable MAS and spur the broader financial sector to unlock new possibilities that could benefit consumers and businesses,” Ng added.


Accelerating Singapore’s artificial intelligence strategy 


Finally, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) will be working with Google Cloud to develop the country into a trusted global AI hub. As part of Singapore’s national AI vision and strategy, the government aims to nurture Singapore as a global leader in AI solutions by 2030.


This partnership will support the adoption and development of innovative, responsible, and inclusive AI technologies to maximise opportunities in the Asia-Pacific.


For example, Singapore’s technology ecosystem will be able to tap on Google Cloud's AI infrastructure, GPU hardware, Vertex AI platform, and AI services to develop and implement innovative and responsible AI solutions.


MCI and Google Cloud will soon establish a trusted AI model marketplace on Google Cloud, which will provide developers with access to Google’s AI solutions and foundational models. In turn, developers can use these as a starting point to accelerate the development of home-grown AI technologies. 


Next, Google Cloud will be implementing skilling initiatives to train Singaporeans in AI competencies and establish a talent pipeline for Singapore’s AI economy. They will also run incubators and accelerators to foster innovation. 


“Working together, we will create a vibrant AI ecosystem and thriving AI startup economy, accelerate business transformation and innovation, and develop the AI capabilities of Singapore's workforce,” said Karan Bajwa, Vice President, Google Cloud Asia Pacific.