Ministry of Finance / Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

The Problem

a. In 2005, the Government saw potential in leveraging the mobile channel as a means to further enhance the reach and accessibility of our electronic services (e-Services) to every citizen on-the-go. Efforts were invested to accelerate the deployment of mobile services (m-Services) via the SMS platform. Over a period of 5 years from 2005 – 2010, over 300 SMS-based services were launched by Government Agencies (“agencies”).

b. In recent years, Singapore’s mobile landscape has developed rapidly with the mobile phone penetration rate reaching 149.6% in 2011. Singapore’s smartphone penetration rate was 72%, the 3rd highest in the world. Citizens and businesses were increasingly using smartphones and tablets to access information and conduct transactions on-the-move, either through their mobile browsers or native mobile applications. Many private sector service providers started offering feature-rich mobile applications (apps) that leverage emerging mobile technologies such as location-based services (LBS), augmented reality, mobile payment and Near-Field Communications (NFC). These apps provided an interactive user experience that could keep the people informed and engaged. They also met users’ evolving preferences to find information and conduct transactions on-the-go, instead of waiting until they had access to a computer at home, in school or the workplace.

c. The public expected the Government to also offer similar apps. Hence, there was a need to offer Government services not just on the SMS platform, but also via content and feature rich apps that could enhance the public’s experience and satisfaction in interacting and transacting with the Government.

d. However, smaller agencies with limited manpower and capability found it difficult to transition their e-Services or SMS services to mobile websites or apps for smartphones and tablets. For agencies that had done so, they adopted different implementation approaches, resulting in varying standards and quality in the m-Services offered by the Government.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
a. The Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Info-Communications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) launched a Whole-of-Government (WOG) Mobile Government programme in 2011 to:

(i) Support and guide agencies in developing and delivering high-quality, content- and feature-rich m-Services that leverage advanced mobile technologies to enhance customer experience and satisfaction; and

(ii) Provide common tools and services to build agencies’ capability, and support them in the efficient and consistent implementation of such m-Services.

b. The Singapore Government adopted the following strategies:

(i) Mobile Funding Framework – Financial incentives were provided to agencies to implement innovative m-Services that made effective use of emerging mobile technologies and interagency or industry collaborations. Citizens benefit through more content- and feature-rich apps offered by agencies.

(ii) Mobile Studies – Regular mobile studies and surveys were conducted to track consumer usage trends, technological advancements and market developments to allow agencies to keep pace with the fast evolving mobile landscape. The study findings were disseminated to agencies so that they could make informed decisions when implementing m-Services. Citizens benefit through more relevant m-Services offered by the Government that are better aligned to their needs.

(iii) Mobile Engagement Platforms – Platforms such as Community of Practice, online collaboration tools, industry exchange events and competitions were organized to foster knowledge sharing and create opportunities for idea generation and innovation in the mobile space. Such platforms helped to build agencies’ capabilities and foster public-private partnerships so that better m-Services could be developed.

(iv) Mobile Implementation Reference and Standards – Mobile Implementation References were established to help agencies understand key factors they should consider when developing m-Services. Standards incorporating best practices in mobile website and apps design were developed into ensure a minimum quality of m-Services delivered by different agencies. With these references and standards, more agencies were better equipped to undertake m-Services development. Consumers benefit from higher quality m-Services offered by the agencies.

(v) One-Stop Government Mobile Site (mGov@SG) – A one-stop portal ( that aggregates all Government m-Services was developed. Citizens benefit through the convenient discovery and access of these m-Services from a single location. mGov@SG also serves as a common platform for agencies to drive awareness and adoption of their m-Services.

(vi) Common Mobile Enablers - Common software modules and tools were put in place to allow agencies to save time and resources in deploying m-Services or improve existing ones. Examples include location-based service APIs, point-of-interest directories, mobile payment, mobile ticketing and Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) modules. Agencies benefit from faster turn-around time for their m-Services development, while citizens can enjoy more advanced features in agencies’ m-Services.

(vii) Mobile Excellence Award – The Award was organized to recognize agencies with outstanding m-Services. As public rating formed part of the judging process, the Awards also served to raise awareness of Government m-Services amongst citizens.

c. The impact of the programme was measured by the following:

(i) Number of m-Services developed for smartphones and tablets;
(ii) Awareness of Government m-Services;
(iii) Usage of Government m-Services; and
(iv) Percentage of citizens satisfied with the overall quality of Government m-Services.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
a. The programme was co-developed by MOF and IDA. MOF is the sponsor and lead agency of this programme. IDA is MOF’s partner and undertakes the implementation of the programme. Other stakeholders of the programme included:

(i) Government agencies - Ministries, Statutory Boards and Organs of State that deliver services to citizens and businesses.

(ii) Citizens - Singaporeans and permanent residents who interact and transact with the Government using their mobile devices.

(iii) Businesses. Commercial organisations in Singapore. Business employees leverage the convenience of smartphones and tablets to transact with the Government and stay informed of government-related processes.

(iv) Private sector. Developers who leverage Government data sets (e.g. weather, traffic information) to contribute ideas and co-create m-Services with the Government. The IDA also worked with the private sector to put in place mobile enablers such as common software modules that agencies could leverage to quickly implement m-Services.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The strategies adopted are as follows:

a. Mobile Funding Framework – Funds were made available by MOF to kick start agencies’ efforts in transiting from SMS m-Services to feature-rich m-Services. Higher levels of funding support were given to projects that involved collaborations among multiple agencies and/or with the private sector so as to provide more value-added services and a seamless user experience.

b. Mobile Studies – Industry experts in the area of mobility were engaged to analyze market trends and evaluate their impact to the Government. End-user surveys were also conducted to better understand local mobile usage patterns and preferences to allow the Government to better design m-Services according to local demands.

c. Mobile Engagement Platforms – A Mobile Community of Practice (mCOP) was established and members were public officers involved in m-Services development. Quarterly events were held to facilitate sharing of learning points and strategies adopted by each agency. Industry experts were also invited to share their expertise. In addition to these events, social media collaboration tools were adopted to encourage exchange of views and expertise. An “Ideas4Apps” competition was also organized to crowd source innovative ideas and poll the public’s interest and demand for Government m-Services.

d. Mobile Implementation Reference and Standards – Best practices gathered throughout the programme were compiled into a set of Mobile Implementation References to guide agencies in deploying m-Services. A set of Mobile Implementation Standards on the design of mobile websites and mobile apps were also developed to ensure a minimum quality is maintained for m-Services delivered by different agencies. The Standards were established by adapting best practices from W3C, iOS, Android, observed user preferences etc. To ensure that it was feasible for agencies to implement these Standards, agencies were consulted and their inputs taken into consideration before the Standards were finalized.

e. One-Stop Government Mobile Site (mGov@SG) – To facilitate quick and easy access by the public, the portal was designed to be device-aware and automatically display m-Services based on the type of mobile device used (e.g. if a user surfs using an iPhone, iOS m-Services will be shown). Users who wish to see all the m-Services available for other devices (e.g. Android device) can also choose to do so. The Top 25 list of most popular m-Services is also featured on the portal’s landing page. Besides providing easy access to these m-Services, it motivates agencies to continuously improve the quality and user experience of their m-Services.

f. Common Mobile Enablers - A series of consultations (e.g. demand poll and focus group discussions) was conducted to identify the common software modules agencies require for their m-Services development. After understanding agencies’ needs, IDA worked with the industry to make available these common enablers for agencies’ usage.

g. Mobile Excellence Award – To ensure alignment to the broader goals of the programme, the judging criteria considered the innovativeness of the m-Services and alignment with the Mobile Implementation Reference and Standards. A public rating component formed part of the judging criteria to encourage agencies to develop m-Services that delighted their customers.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
a. The key programme developments are summarized as follows:

• Jun 2011 – Launched mGov@SG, the one-stop portal for the public to discover all agencies’ m-Services

• Sep 2011 - Completed industry scan of technology and consumer trends that are of relevance to mobile government

• Nov 2011 – Launched end user survey to understand Singaporean consumer adoption, preferences and behaviour in consuming m-Services

• Nov 2011 – Published the 1st version of Mobile Implementation Reference to guide agencies in m-Services development

• Nov 2011 – Established the Mobile Community of Practice (mCOP), comprising mobile practitioners from different agencies.

• Nov 2011 – Launched the mCOP social collaboration tool

• Jan 2012 – Launched the “Ideas4Apps Challenge” to crowd source for ideas from the general public and private sector on innovative mobile applications that can be developed using Government data

• Feb 2012 – Conducted a demand poll for Common Mobile Enablers to identify requirements from agencies

• Feb 2012 – Conducted the 1st mCOP event to share with agencies the objectives of the Next Phase of the Mobile Government programme.

• Mar 2012 – Submitted ideas for the “Ideas4Apps Challenge” open for public voting

• Apr 2012 – Announced winners of the “Ideas4Apps challenge”

• May 2012 – Launched Mobile Funding Framework to support agencies in developing feature-rich m-Services

• May 2012 – Conducted the 2nd mCOP event, focusing on user experience design for m-Services

• June 2012 – Conducted Focus Group Discussions for Common Mobile Enablers to determine agencies’ specific use cases

• Jul 2012 – Launched the Mobile Excellence Award to recognize agencies’ efforts in delivering good quality m-Services.

• Aug 2012 – Conducted the 3rd mCOP event, focusing on mobile application development and mobile payment

• Aug 2012 - Published the 2nd version of the Mobile Implementation Reference

• Sep 2012 – Awarded grants to agencies for the development of feature-rich and collaborative m-Services

• Oct 2012 – Developed the Mobile Implementation Standards for consultation with agencies

• Nov 2012 – Informed agencies of the Common Mobile Enablers that are available for their usage

• Nov 2012 – Conducted the 4th mCOP event, focusing on mobile security

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
a. One of the obstacles is balancing the needs of the various agencies. Some of the smaller agencies required more support to build basic capabilities compared to the larger agencies that had the resources to roll out feature-rich m-Services quickly and wanted support in more sophisticated areas, technologies and enablers. We overcame this obstacle by putting in place a set of Mobile Implementation Reference that served as a step-by-step m-Services deployment guide for agencies that were new in the mobile space. At the regular Mobile Community of Practice (mCOP) sessions, larger agencies were also invited to share their mobile experiences and journeys to accelerate smaller agencies’ understanding of the strategies and pitfalls to avoid in the development of m-Services. This enabled MOF and IDA to set aside resources to cater to the more challenging demands of the larger agencies.

b. Another obstacle was the need to respond quickly enough to the shifting needs of citizens, given the rapidly evolving mobile landscape. To overcome this obstacle, regular market studies were conducted to more closely track mobile landscape developments so that agencies could stay informed of the trends they need to look out for. We also leveraged the resources of the private sector, through sharing of Government datasets, to spur their development of innovative apps and services using agency-supplied information such as weather data and traffic information.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
a. MOF and IDA set up a team to centrally coordinate, drive and implement this WOG programme. The benefits of adopting this WOG approach are:
(i) High-quality Government m-Service experience for customers. Initiatives such as the Mobile Funding Framework, Mobile Implementation Reference and Standards and the Mobile Excellence Awards collectively guide agencies on the best practices in the mobile space and ensure that Government m-Services are consistently of high standards, thereby improving the service experience for customers.
(ii) Cost efficiencies through demand aggregation. Mobile Studies aggregate demand for research on the mobile landscape that will benefit all agencies. Common software tools required by all agencies can be collectively addressed and made available centrally to shorten the time-to-market for agencies’ m-Services.
(iii) Collective sharing of best practices. Through the centrally managed Mobile Engagement Platforms, mobile practitioners within the public sector could have opportunities to exchange knowledge and experience in implementing Government m-services. Such exchanges not only encourage new collaborations across different agencies, but also enable agencies that are new to m-Services to quickly acquire key lessons learnt from other agencies. This facilitated more learning across agencies than if courses were run to centrally impart skills to agencies.
(iv) Leverage resources beyond the Government. By inviting industry experts to contribute their expertise at the Mobile Engagement Platforms and in the Mobile Studies, the Government tapped on resources in the private sector to help agencies build up and improve on their capabilities in m-Services development more quickly. By involving the public in the “Ideas4Apps Challenge” and the Mobile Excellence Award, the Government was able to tap on their creativity and source for innovative ideas to deliver high quality m-Services, as well as better understand the needs of the public – this was important as ultimately the m-Services were developed to serve them.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
a. The Mobile Government programme is a WOG initiative with participation from all agencies as well as the people and private sectors. Since the launch of the programme in 2011, we have seen an increase in the number of feature-rich m-Services offered by the agencies. Over and above the existing 300 SMS-based services, there are approximately 137 m-Services today for smartphones and tablets. With the implementation of the various initiatives under the programme, we expect to see continued increase in the number of feature-rich m-Services delivered by the agencies in the longer term. The initiative is also sustained in the following ways:

(i) Agencies can continue to leverage the Mobile Community of Practice (mCOP) and the social collaboration tools as a platform for continued exchange of knowledge and expertise.

(ii) The Mobile Implementation References and Standards will ensure that best practices are being adopted by agencies in the longer term, and ensure that consistently good quality m-Services are made available for the public.

(iii) The Biennial Mobile Excellence Awards, as well as the “Top 25” ranking on the mGov@SG portal will continue to spur agencies to enhance their m-Services or develop new innovative ones that cater to the needs of citizens.

b. Many of the initiatives under this programme can be easily replicated internationally by adopting similar approach and strategies.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
a. The factors that made the initiative a success are:

(i) Addressing agencies’ needs. Through extensive consultation, we identified difficulties that agencies faced in transiting from SMS-based services to feature-rich m-Services, e.g. responding to the fast-changing mobile technology developments and user behavior. Appropriate strategies were then adopted to address agencies’ needs, covering capability development, implementation guidelines, engagement platforms, common ICT modules and funding. As a result, the number of Government m-Services developed for smartphones and tablets leapt from 55 in 2011 to 137 this year.

(ii) Addressing the needs of citizens. To ensure that the programme could deliver the key outcome of improving service delivery to the public, surveys were conducted to understand Singaporeans’ mobile consumption patterns. The findings were shared with agencies so that they were kept abreast of citizens’ needs. Recognising that citizens are keen to engage with the Government, agencies developed crowd sourcing m-Services. Some examples include:

• (1.6 million monthly page views) by the Land Transport Authority - Provides bus arrival timings, viewing of traffic camera images and congestion charging rates. Users can also snap pictures of road defects and provide feedback to LTA from their smartphones.
• Snap@MOM (4,500 downloads within 4 months after launch) by the Ministry of Manpower – Allows the public to provide feedback on safety issues by taking photographs of unsafe work practices and workplace conditions with their smartphones.
• myENV (89,000 downloads over 1 year) by the National Environment Agency - Provides weather information, air quality readings, dengue clusters and water levels across various locations. The public can “snap and send” photographs and report issues they observe.
• Police@SG (73,000 downloads over 10 months) by the Singapore Police Force - Provides the latest crime news and statistics, police appeals for information and missing people information, and a location-based guide to the closest police station.

b. Collaboration with people and private sectors. One of the key lessons learnt is that the mobile landscape is evolving very rapidly. Hence, we involved the public, people and private sectors to better and more quickly respond to citizens’ needs. More than 40 m-Services were developed using the more than 7,000 Government data sets made available on the portal ( Some examples of apps developed by the people and private sectors include:

• WeatherLah – Weather guide with local weather information, supplemented by real time information that is crowd sourced from users.

• StreetSine – App that allows property agents in Singapore to co-broke on validated property sales and rental listings based on specific geographical locations.

• ParksLive@SG – Augmented reality park navigation guide for users to find directions to park attractions and amenities.

• ShowNearby – App that shows users nearby points-of-interest from their current location.

c. The Mobile Government programme resulted in a three-fold increase in the awareness of Government m-Services, from 16% in 2011 to 50% in 2012. The usage of these m-Services also leapt from 6% in 2011 to 21% 2012, with 93% of citizens polled being satisfied with the quality of these m-Services.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Finance / Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Yu Chiann Foo
Title:   Assistant Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   +65-6211-0325
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   10 Pasir Panjang Road #10-01
Postal Code:   117438
City:   Singapore
Country:   Singapore

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