Saturday, 12 November 2016

All civil servants in Singapore to use Facebook's Workplace by 2017

Singapore is first govt in the world to adopt social networking firm's chat platform for businesses
By Irene Tham, Tech Editor, The Straits Times, 11 Nov 2016

All public servants in Singapore will be using Workplace, Facebook's chat platform for businesses, to communicate with one another, marking yet another first for Singapore among governments in the world.

The professional edition of the popular Facebook social networking tool has been rolled out to 5,300 public officers in 15 public agencies including the Public Service Division (PSD), Ministry of Communications and Information, and Civil Service College.

It will allow them to communicate with one another on their mobile phones and tablets.

The plan is to get all 143,000 public servants from all agencies on board by March, said Mr Peter Ong, head of the civil service.

"We must always be on the lookout for cutting-edge technological developments to help us innovate, and apply these in our public service," he said at the PS21 ExCEL (Excellence through Continuous Enterprise and Learning) Convention at ITE College Central yesterday.

As a security procedure, highly classified work matters will not be shared via Workplace.

Public servants also cannot use their personal Facebook accounts to log in, and have to log in using their work e-mail.

Moreover, public officers' mobile devices are not plugged to the intranet, where sensitive government matters reside.

Workplace will replace the Public Service Division's in-house development called Cube, launched in 2013. Cube did not take off, he said, citing factors such as unfamiliarity with the interface and slow loading.

The decision to go with Workplace was made after considering its security, cost and ease of use.

Based on pricing information on Facebook's website, monthly costs for 143,000 user accounts are estimated at $154,000 after a three- month free trial.

"We have seen agencies reduce the number of internal e-mails sent by posting major announcements on Workplace," said Mr Ong.

The use of Workplace follows the Government's move to delink all public servants' computers from Web surfing, first reported in June, to prevent leaks from work e-mail and shared documents amid heightened security threats.

Mr Aloysius Cheang, Asia-Pacific executive vice-president of global computing security association Cloud Security Alliance, said internal policies have to be enforced to ensure users do not post pictures that may contain classified information.

"Facebook, on the other hand, is obliged by its service level agreement to ensure that customer information is not leaked," he added.

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