New features on government platform expedite search for solutions in going digital

SINGAPORE – It could soon be easier and faster for firms and public agencies to find solutions to technology challenges they face in going digital, with new features a government crowdsourcing initiative is getting.

The Open Innovation Platform (OIP), managed by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), will soon have a new search function on its website, called the Discovery Engine, that organisations – from start-ups to multinational corporations – can use to find solutions to the problems they face as a starting point.

A second feature that OIP is getting is called the Digital Bench, which provides organisations with tools to help build proofs of concept and prototypes of potential tech solutions.

Organisations can register with OIP on this website for free. It now matches organisations with tech challenges or needs with solutions provided by other companies. IMDA guides, supports and offers technical expertise to organisations through this.

But with the Discovery Engine, this matching can be done faster to shortlist potential solutions.

IMDA told The Straits Times that the search engine will recommend previously deployed tech solutions with similar applications.

“This will allow the company to start the development process immediately, instead of going through a proof-of-concept phase, which will save… time, depending on the complexity of the solution,” an IMDA spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the Digital Bench is expected to shorten the development of proofs of concepts from months to weeks.

Discovery engine

An organisation can key in the details of its tech problem in the Discovery Engine on the OIP site to search for potential solutions.

The search results for solutions are ranked, based on factors such as whether the solutions have been used for similar problems previously.

IMDA said this means the engine will reduce the need for evaluating submissions by solution providers.

But if there are no current solutions relevant to the problem, the organisation doing the search will be prompted to go through a guided process, and IMDA will help the organisation better define its problem statement.

The problem is later opened to OIP’s pool of tech solution providers to submit proposals. IMDA will also look out for and curate potential matches for the problem statement.

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The authority said this structured process “will support companies requiring more complex solutions to meet their innovation and digital transformation needs”.

Regardless of how a tech solution provider is selected, it will be awarded funds to develop its solution.

Digital bench

This digital toolbox offers quick access to resources for tech solution providers to build prototypes for solutions to address problems posted on OIP.

The Digital Bench is expected to include tools that can, for example, help tech companies monitor different components of a software being built, integrate them and deliver a new version of the software.

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Another set of tools can scan the code of prototype software so that any issues, such as bad code that could result in a security breach, can be identified.

IMDA said the Digital Bench gives solution providers a testing environment so they can quickly prototype and commercialise their solutions.

Currently, when an organisation with a problem is matched with a tech solution provider on OIP, a considerable amount of time is spent to prepare for the prototyping environment, acquiring data sets, or getting a software development platform ready for testing.

But with the Digital Bench, software such as open-source development tool kits and data sets will be readily available, IMDA said.

Solution providers can also offer software that can be reused by other providers for subsequent projects, which can speed up the prototyping process.

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