How do Singaporeans feel about the services government provides? It’s a question we’re always keen to explore as it informs how we help agencies to design services that really matter to citizens. One issue that’s becoming more prominent is citizens’ concerns about data privacy and how these might be influenced by the context and purpose for which their data is used.

To get more insights into this question, we looked at the responses from two independent surveys carried out by Accenture. One was a survey of 5,000 citizens in Singapore, the US, UK, Germany and Australia. The other was a local piece of research we commissioned to explore citizens’ mindsets in Singapore towards the use of data for public safety and cybersecurity.

The global survey reveals that 56% of people surveyed in Singapore use multiple government digital services several times per year. That compares to an average of 30% for all respondents. What’s interesting is that two-thirds of the respondents surveyed in Singapore indicate that they would increase their use of government digital services if they were offered a single portal to access multiple services and/or if they could make payments through their preferred channel or app. The majority of Singapore respondents also value proactive content as an important element of their favourite apps. They want the government to provide similarly proactive content through the digital services they offer. Overall, Singaporeans’ willingness to embrace and engage with well-designed, innovative digital services is the highest amongst respondents in all the five countries surveyed.

Our local research showed that Singaporeans are, in general, pragmatic about where they draw the line between privacy and security. Citizens are still most comfortable with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for seamless government digital services where strong measures of privacy protection and data security are in place. And they are especially positive about the application of data and cutting-edge technologies to prevent serious threats to public safety.

There’s also a nuance between the responses of men and women. Men feel more positive about integrating data across government and leveraging biometrics and facial scans to uncover potential terrorist attacks and cyberthreats. Women tend to prioritise combatting cybercrime along with strong measures to ensure accuracy, fairness and data security. Across all demographics, we see trust in government’s use of AI increasing when coupled with advanced technologies such as encryption to prevent unauthorised access to sensitive data. This is in line with the initial report by the Public Sector Data Security Review Committee on the need for new privacy and security protection capabilities.

Looking at the responses from the two separate surveys, it’s clear that, as government agencies in Singapore migrate applications to the public cloud, there is a window to rethink how digital content and services can serve citizens better and how the crossover between digital and physical should work to improve services to citizens. At the same time, there’s a need to review how the data collected is used, communicated and protected, as greater data availability becomes a pre-requisite to solve difficult issues, including keeping Singapore safe and secure.

Ng Wee Wei

Managing Director ​​​​– Public Service, Growth Markets

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