Saturday, 11 April 2015

IDA to launch software design centre for Govt e-services in July 2015

By Kevin Kwang, Channel NewsAsia, 9 Apr 2015

Come mid-July, there will be a new Software Design and Development Centre of Excellence, and Government agencies can tap its research and data analytics capabilities to design online services to better meet citizens' needs, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim.

The centre, to be launched by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), will be a one-stop shop where expertise in developing e-services is concentrated, Dr Yaacob said on Thursday (Apr 9) at the ministry's Work Plan Seminar.

"As we get more citizens connected to the internet, we must ensure that our e-services can offer citizens the most user-friendly and optimally-designed experience in a high-tech and seamless Smart Nation," he said.

Beyond project management, Dr Yaacob also said the centre will allow IDA to develop a "small but strong core of coders and engineers" capable of creating IT solutions within the Government.

"This will be one of the ways in which we can maintain expertise, raise IT competencies and attract talents to join IDA," he said. 

The 13,000 sq ft research and testing lab will be located at the Sandcrawler, Lucasfilm’s Singapore campus at Fusionopolis.


Another area the Government is allocating resources to is to get more citizens connected to the internet and minimise the digital divide within the society. One of the first steps taken was the setting up of the Digital Inclusion Fund a year ago, Dr Yaacob said.

Since then, IDA has reached out to more than 2,400 pre-qualified households for the Home Access package under the Fund. The package provides low-income households with a tablet and four years of broadband connectivity at a subsidised rate of S$6 per month, he added.

The agency will also roll out its first free training workshops next month, the minister said.

Eighty-year-old retiree Nair Rajeswari, who qualified for the programme last year, said she has learnt new ways of keeping in touch with her friends.

She said: "I was so happy when you all rang me up. I said wow, this is for me to start getting educated again. I have managed to get a couple of friends onto ... WhatsApp. We chat every morning with each other, just short chats." 

In a separate press release on Thursday, M1 said it is collaborating with IDA as its Home Access Programme partner to deliver high-speed fibre broadband access to up to 8,000 low-income households that do not have school-going children and with at least one Singapore citizen.

Eligible households will get the telco's 100Mbps fibre broadband service, an internet router and a seven-inch Alcatel tablet for S$6 per month over a two-year contract, it said. After the two-year contract is up, the subscriber can re-contract for another two years under the same terms if the household still meets the requirements, said an M1 spokesman. If no contract extension is signed, the service will be terminated at the end of two years.

The telco added that its SunCare Club staff volunteers would also conduct regular training sessions in the use of the mobile devices and apps for these households.

"This is for me to start getting educated again!'"Yesterday, Minister Yaacob Ibrahim shared about how MCI is pulling...
Posted by Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) on Thursday, April 9, 2015

What do kopitiams, “summon aunties”, and "the Lion” have in common?These are all quirky elements of games specially...
Posted by Media Development Authority, Singapore on Thursday, April 9, 2015

5 uniquely Singaporean mobile games launched for SG50
By Hetty Musfirah Abdul Khamid, Channel NewsAsia, 9 Apr 2015

From Jul 1, Singaporeans can download new mobile games specially invented by local developers to commemorate the country's 50th birthday, the Media Development Authority (MDA) announced on Thursday (Apr 9).

The five games – Building the Lion, KAN-CHEONG! Kopitiam Saga, My Singapore City, Rickshaw Rush and Satay Club – aim to let players learn about the Republic's history in an interactive way, but also explore the quirks that are "uniquely Singaporean".

The first four were selected from a batch of 40 proposals submitted in June 2014 based on their quality and entertainment value, including how well they showcased Singapore’s unique culture and characteristics, MDA revealed.

Building the Lion allows its players to construct Singapore's iconic buildings such as CK Tang and, at the same time, learn about its history. One can also know more about Singapore icons such as Ah Meng the orangutan, singer Dick Lee and the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Said Mr Aldric Chang, Co-founder of Swag Soft, Building the Lion's developer: "We wanted Singaporeans, especially the younger ones, to have something to take away after they play the game, so we really wanted to incorporate a lot of elements inside that can tell them about Singapore's history - Singapore's iconic people and the architecture."

"For the iconic people of Singapore, it ranges from our founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to more recent politicians and we do not forget the others who are truly unique and put Singapore on the world map like artists like Mr Dick Lee," he added.

KAN-CHEONG! Kopitiam Saga, for example, revolves around two kopitiams in the Joo Chiat area and plays up local eccentricities such as the rush to put out parking coupons to avoid getting summoned.

Said Mr Joel Chua, Co-founder of Mojocat, KAN-CHEONG!'s developer: "The main thing is to bring laughter to people, laugh at our own culture because all these mini games reflect the cultural quirks displayed in the kopitiam. In the kopitiam taxi drivers or other drivers will always rush to their cars to put more coupons whenever the summon auntie appears, we thought that, well, it is our own distinctive culture right? So we thought why not put it in a game and make it fun."

My Singapore City! is a combination of memory game and city builder that features over 80 of Singapore’s most iconic heritage sites and buildings.

The fifth game, Satay Club, was volunteered by creator Afzainizam Zahari. Set in 1940s to 1960s Singapore, it revolves around main character Adi, who has come to the city from Java to make money, only to find out his job is to sell satay on Beach Road. Players have to help Adi make the best of the situation, and ultimately, to grow the business into a lucrative one.

Said Mr Afzainizam: "I don't think many know about that any more - how people enjoyed their drinks and food after watching a movie, because Satay Club use to be next to Alhambra Cinema - the young people especially. So the objective of this game; my purpose - to bridge this gap of knowledge where people no longer have knowledge of the past."

Satay Club was volunteered because it was not part of the original games in the call for proposals, and was only discovered after the call had closed, said an MDA spokesperson. But while the game did not receive any funding under the call for proposals, MDA is still supporting it in terms of marketing, and is also open to more games being volunteered as long as they meet certain quality standards and the SG50 theme.

MDA’s internal judging panel comprised some industry members, such as Gumi Asia CEO David Ng, member of the Games Solutions Centre’s management committee Albert Lim, MDA’s Director of Industry Operations Joachim Ng, as well as Oo Gin Lee, Digital Life Editor for The Straits Times.

Mr Ng said the panel was very confident that local developers could develop high quality games which Singaporeans will enjoy, noting how some of them have become as good as any global developers in the world. 

He added: “I am glad that the games industry is supporting SG50 in its own way. Singaporeans will be able to enjoy and relate to these one-of-its-kind, fun and engaging games made by our local game talent. I encourage everyone to play and share them with their friends and family when the games are launched.”

All five games are free to download via Google Play and the iOS App Store from Jul 1.

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