Overcoming Barriers in Data Sharing for Public Services in ASEAN – Takeaways from AIBP Insights, 27 Oct 2020

Last year, Thailand led the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework Action Plan which aims to accelerate a coordinated integrated digital economy which followed the ASEAN Framework on Digital Data Governance and Personal Data Protection that was initiated in 2018. In the current economic landscape, free data flow across borders can benefit people and economies by facilitating trade opportunities, investment innovation, development and growth, and productivity. 

As part of AIBP Insights Thailand, we were excited to host digital transformation leaders from the public sector at a focus group discussion on Data Collaboration to Optimize the Speed for Public Services Delivery.

Data and Digital Government Initiatives

Fulfilling citizen expectations has become increasingly challenging, as we get used to the speed and convenience that technology has brought about in our daily lives.

Starting off the session, we had the honour of having Dr. Monsak, VP / Chief Data Officer of Digital Government Development Agency (DGA), to share about their recently launched official measures and guidelines for over 200 agencies in Thailand. DGA is tasked with the fairing task of introducing the Open Data Framework, and educating public agencies across the country to adhere to a common set of standards for data governance.

While the end goal of Digital Government is “Optimization” – to provide Personalized Services to citizens – one key challenge persists: maturity levels across agencies and organisations vary which makes it difficult to coordinate data sharing. 

This is echoed by K. Natta from the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission (OPDC), who is working closely with DGA in promoting the eGovernment standards. Some of the pain points that he brought up include:

  1. The provision of e-services does not automatically change backend operations (Back office is still very much paper based)
  2. Integration and communication between different agencies
  3. Perception on data protection and trust (or distrust) by users

These are not unique to Thailand. Reflecting on the Philippines’ journey since they started the Open Data Initiative five years ago, Sir Mon, former UnderSecretary of the Department of ICT (DICT) mentioned that trust issues exist not just with users, but also between agencies.

In Myanmar, policies are still in the developing stage where the government is starting out with data cleaning and governance. Daw Nwe Ni, who has been leading the e-Government and IT department of the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC), recognised the importance of data utilization and is working towards communicating this to local stakeholders. They are currently in the process of drafting the cyber legal and regulatory framework to legislate law and policies on Open Data interpretation.

Application of Data Collaboration in Driving Services Delivery

In the current climate, healthcare is perhaps the most important public service that citizens look to. From our discussions with ASEAN stakeholders throughout the past 5 weeks, the idea that COVID-19 has inadvertently accelerated digitalisation across industries has been brought up consistently.

Dr Lersak, Deputy Director of ICT Center from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) shared their plans to create the national data healthcare platform. MOPH covers about 70% of the local healthcare sector and collects data from 800 hospitals nationwide. 

Meanwhile for Vietnam, Zenda, the Chief Digital Transformation Officer for Vinmec, a not-for-profit institution invested by Vingroup Corporation, brought up their several data integration initiatives with the National Health Insurance Portal and also internally with their finance and operations.

As the data that healthcare organisations collect includes both structural and non structural data, this requires additional effort in processing and analysing the data. Another issue that they face is data privacy and negotiation on ownership of data between private and public organisations.

In addressing this, Dr. Thattapon from depa highlighted their effort to introduce blockchain technology to public organisations including the healthcare industry. “Having visibility of the data from start to end is key to enable trust among citizens and organisations.”

Unifying Data into a Collaborative Data Fabric

As the co-host of the focus group, Han from Oracle summed up the discussions with several key components of Data Quotient which will allow leaders to leverage on already available data to provide digital services or so called “One-Click Service”:

  1. Data Collaboration: Data/Databases are shared for common data sets which can be generated by machines or applications. These data exchanges could be in near real-time or based on batch integration.
  2. Data Governance: The Data Owner has to be clearly defined. This is important as it ensures data privacy is managed, yet adhering to the data quality and the master data management principles.
  3. Data Management: A platform incorporates multi-modal databases, structured and unstructured data sources leveraging AL/ML with an attempt to solve meaningful outcomes.

It is key for the government to promote leadership thinking and (to the best of one’s ability) centralize the digital transformation efforts, in order to break down the silos of data and sharing the data across agencies for better outcomes. This will accelerate “rapid innovation” thereby ushering better and agile public services.

Watch Full Discussion:

A lot needs to be done to educate and roll out data driven initiatives within public sectors in ASEAN, at the same time keeping security and privacy concerns in check. As we facilitate follow up sessions with more in-depth exploration on the challenges public agencies face, we look forward to seeing how public organisations in ASEAN evolve in their strategies to maximise the value of data for actionable intelligence and outcome based services.

Asia IoT Business Platform

17 November 2020

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