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Singapore media and information technology bodies merge to bolster 'smart nation' plans

Singapore plans to merge its technology and media regulators to better support its plans to become a 'smart nation', the Ministry of Communications and Information has said.20 Jan 2016

The Infocomm Development Authority and the Media Development Authority will be merged into the Infocommunications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) on 1 April. The govermnent has also announced the creation of a new agency to promote use of digital technology in government.

The IMDA will implement Singapore's Infocomm Media 2025 plan. It will also oversee policy formulation for infocomm and media policy, Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information said.

The Infocomm Media Plan was published in August last year and sets out how information technology and media can complement Singapore's 'smart nation' aims.

The IMDA will promote industry development and keep the regulatory environment up to date, Yaacob said. Currently, businesses bundling telecoms and media services have to work with both bodies when rolling out new products, so a converged body will simplify this process, he said.

The IMDA will also implement Singapore's Infocomm Media Masterplan, Yaacob told media at a forum on the internet of things in Singapore, the Straits Times said.

"The plan, which was developed in partnership with industry players, also recognises the potential of infocomm media to power the digital transformation of our economy, to revitalise and renew our service and manufacturing industries, and to effect the digital transformation of government services," Yaacob said, according to the Straits Times.

The Singapore Personal Data Protection Commission will now operate within the new IMDA, to increase public confidence in the use of data, Yaacob said.

A second new agency called the Government Technology Organisation (GTO) will also be formed, to manage "digital transformation" in the public sector. One of the aims of the organisation will be to nurture talent to keep government digital services "ahead of the curve", Yaacob said.

"As the nexus of technology and engineering capability within government, the new GTO will be well-placed to help government agencies capitalise on the speed of innovation and new technology trends such as robotics, artificial intelligence, internet of things and big data," he said.

Singaporean citizens will be encouraged to get involved in creating public services through the GTO, and the body will also be responsible for improving the security and resilience of the government IT infrastructure. The government has "unique needs" in terms of cyber defences, Yaacob said, and the GTO will work closely with the Cybersecurity Agency of Singapore to secure government services.