E-services: Through its government-developed eCitizen Web portal, Singapore is migrating all its public services online. The goal is for citizens to have one-stop access to everything from birth registrations to retirement fund information. Singapore hopes to have 99 percent of those services consolidated online by 2004. Today, more than 500 e-services are available via the Internet and at eCitizen kiosks in community centers throughout the island.
E-business: Singapore is attempting to find an electronic means of cutting through red tape for businesses that want to set up shop, obtain permits or merely pay their taxes. The first hurdle, cleared in 2001, was creating a one-stop portal for new businesses to register in Singapore. Before, they had to spend weeks visiting offices and obtaining permits. Now they can register online and receive everything they need within three to five days. The fees for registering a new business have been cut from up to $1,700 to $150.
Through the Singapore One broadband network, subscribers can sign up for a movie-on-demand service that gives them access to a large video library. For roughly $2.50, viewers rent these films for 24 hours, and they can fast-forward, rewind or replay them several times over?anything but legally record them.
Clearly, Singapore had some advantages before deploying e-services. This is a small island (246 square miles), after all, and the telecommunications infrastructure was already modern and sturdy. Few other countries, much less the United States, could hope to duplicate those initiatives today.
But a U.S. city, county or even state could. The keys to success are to have a strategy for scaling up before you launch and then to find a balance between supply and demand.
“You don’t want to create 1,000 users and then have nothing for them to use,” says Daneel Pang, the Infocomm Development Authority deputy director of content development.