The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), together with other agencies are working towards Singapore’s vision to becoming the world’s first smart nation. That’s why World Bank Group colleagues were eager to hear from Mr. Chan Cheow Hoe – IDA’s Government Chief Information Officer (CIO) – and his team during their visit to World Bank on September 24, 2014, about their vision of a “smart nation”.
Mr. Chan opened the conversation by offering his understanding of the basics: what is “innovation”? Innovation, according to him, is a means to very concrete ends: solving people’s problems. When pursuing innovation in certain areas of life, we should first ask ourselves “what problems are we going to solve?” The answer to this question should guide our search for technologically enabled solutions.
A “smart” nation is one whose government employs innovative technologies to effectively respond to its peoples’ needs, improving their social and economic prospects. It does so inclusively, so that all sub-segments of the population benefit. This citizen-centric approach is the key to understanding governance in a smart nation; unlike business entities, the government cannot choose its customers and must serve all citizens. In doing so, the government has to deal with diverse subjects and issues, which adds complexity to the task. For this reason, the government should have a long term view and plan.
We often consult various partners – including governments, organizations and other implementers – on Open Data and its critical role in economic development and growth. The World Bank’s team of information and communication technology (ICT) and open data experts help explore the potential for forecasting national and global trends, while also unlocking opportunities for innovation and improved performance. These consultations serve as a crucial starting point in planning, implementation and correction of many government, private sector and civil society initiatives.
Since 2012, the Bank has organized a series of trainings on open data tools and online resources for users in government, economic research institutes, media, civil society, academia and the private sector. More than 3,000 stakeholders have been trained already in 10+ major cities of India. There is need to take this agenda forward especially in the low-income states where exposure to the Bank's resources is lower.
There’s a range of studies that suggest that the potential prize from Open Data could be enormous - including an estimate of $3-5 trillion a year globally from McKinsey Global Institute and an estimate of $13 trillion cumulative over the next 5 years in the G20 countries. There are supporting studies of the value of Open Data to certain sectors in certain countries - for instance $20 billion a year to Agriculture in the US - and of the value of key datasets such as geospatial data. All these support the conclusion that the economic potential is at least significant - although with a range from “significant” to “extremely significant”!
Open Data could be a “Swiss Army Knife” for modern government - a multi-use tool that can be used to increase transparency and accountability, to improve public services, to enhance government efficiency and to stimulate economic growth, business innovation and job creation.
The economic growth opportunity has certainly caught imaginations around the world. The Economist recently likened Open Data’s commercial potential to ‘a new goldmine.’ The McKinsey Global Institute estimated potential economic benefits of at least $3 trillion a year globally, and a recent study for the Omidyar Network by Lateral Economics suggested that, for G20 economies, Open Data could help increase output by $13 trillion cumulatively over the next five years.
Other studies have suggested figures which are lower but still mouth-watering, especially for economies emerging from recession or facing anaemic growth. These are topics we will discuss at a World Bank-sponsored event on July 23, titled “Can Open Data Boost Economic Growth and Prosperity?”
Over the last decade, ICTs have contributed to globalization, shaped economies, transformed society and changed our history. Companies that didn’t exist in 2003 – including Facebook and Twitter – are now essential components of media strategies and contribute to job creation. Broadband drives economic development across the world, and there are more than seven billion mobile cellular subscriptions.
Despite this meteoric change, we’re not quite there yet. While billions of people are already connected to these systems and opportunities, we need much more collaboration to bring about an information society for everyone.
Nigeria is home to Africa’s largest population (approximately 174.5 million) and the continent’s biggest economy (more than $500 billion in annual GDP). It is also the center for a wide range of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) activities, from policy to practice – many of which are supported by the World Bank.
Since the establishment of the Ministry of Communication Technology in 2011, the Nigerian government has made notable progress in advancing its ICT agenda. The government has catalyzed significant efforts in the area of policy and regulation, with an ICT Policy developed in 2012, a National Broadband Development Plan developed in 2013 and an e-Government Strategy now in the works.
Open Government is increasingly perceived as a new paradigm for ICT-enabled government transformation offering a number of instruments for improved governance, transparency and innovation. Ulyanovsk Oblast of Russia has already made substantial progress in e-government, IT industry development and IT literacy, and has taken practical steps that have made it an early leader in Open Government initiatives in Russia, as recognized in a study published in May 2012 by the Russian Institute of the Information Society.