Singapore launches government data sharing platform MyInfo

By David Donaldson

Monday May 16, 2016

Singapore has launched a national government services digital platform, which will increase convenience by only requiring users to enter their information once.

MyInfo, officially launched earlier this month, does away with the need to provide verification documents for every government transaction, as had previously been the case.

It’s hoped the system will save time, avoid mistakes, and eventually do away with the need for physical documents as verification to complete transactions.

It will store personal information — much of it provided by existing government agency records, with some entered by the user — from your name and address to your language, race, marital status, vehicle number, school attended and annual income.

For those concerned about privacy, it’s been built so that consent is required before information can be handed over in each transaction. Use of the service is non-compulsory.

Singapore’s head of civil service Peter Ong launched the system, which is a joint initiative of Singapore’s Info-communications Development Authority and Ministry of Finance. He said in a speech:

“Citizens often ask why they need to give different government agencies the same data about themselves repeatedly for separate transactions. We must aim to remove that inconvenience and friction.

“Digital government is about putting citizens and businesses at the centre, so that they have access to better services and more opportunities. Our goal is to make transacting with the government that much easier, using digital means to work jointly across agency lines to do so.”

Responses to a MyInfo pilot were very encouraging, said Ong:

“Despite the fact that we decided not to publicise the availability of MyInfo, over 32,000 individuals have signed up for the feature since its soft-launch in January this year.”

myinfo singa

 

MyInfo is currently available across 10 e-services including applications for public housing flats — home to the majority of Singapore’s population — and its baby bonus scheme. In the case of baby bonus applications, the Info-communications Development Authority says the MyInfo feature coupled with the online application process allows parents to cut the time taken by half, and eliminates the need to provide physical documents.

By 2018, all e-services that require two-factor user authentication will be linked to the MyInfo platform. The government is also looking to increase the number of personal data items that could be shared, and expand the use of MyInfo to secured commercial transactions, such as those for banking, said Ong.

From June it’s expected MyInfo will allow users to check driver’s licence information such as demerit points, a digital hub for reporting crime or lost property and a dog licence application system.

Singapore, widely seen as a leader in digital government, is improving its citizens’ lives through a range of interesting automated services. It has installed sensors in around 10,000 public bins which trigger alerts when they are almost full — City of Melbourne is looking at doing something similar — and is using robots to shelve books in public libraries.

At Singapore’s border with Malaysia, one of the busiest land borders in the world, motorcyclists will be able to perform self-clearance in automated lanes by the end of this year, reducing the need for manned checkpoints.

$50m for myGov

This comes as Australia’s federal budget promised $50.5 million over five years from 2015‑16 to the Department of Human Services and the Digital Transformation Office to support the operations of Australia’s myGov service.

It includes $45.1 million over four years for the core operational component of myGov and $5.4 million over two years for a joint team (including the Department of Human Services, the Digital Transformation Office, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet) to identify future developments to meet user needs.

The DTO recently released a request for information to gauge private sector capability to assist the DTO in the design and implementation of trusted digital identity framework and associated digital identity solution. It is planning to release an alpha version of a federated verification product in August, along with a framework for participating agencies to be able to verify customers to different levels of assurance.

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