Singapore GovCamp 2011

Themed “Connecting People, Data and Ideas”, the second GovCamp of the year in Singapore was held a few days ago.

GovCamp Singapore focuses on positioning government as a platform to engage key sectors of a country to come together in one conference and to jointly collaborate on how to improve citizen engagement and services using technology. With the proliferation of digital natives, there is an increasing expectation from the general public and new tension created in the public sector to respond faster and more efficiently to citizen concerns.

After the main panel discussion, breakout sessions were held on topics that were crowdsourced and voted upon by the public. Calvin summarizes the online reports about the event. Using the hashtag #govcampsg, below are some of the views of the attendees

@kixes: Prof Lall: You can't assume that all you will get from online comments are garbage. Eg. Iceland crowd-sourced it's Constitution.

@lucian: Gov agencies, don't patronise citizens by soliciting feedback without wanting to give a response.

@nanyate: Social media is not about tools. It's about the mindset – having open, authentic dialogue btwn gov & ppl. Is gov ready for this?

@broadbandjohn: panel discussion: social media should b less beauty contest,and more substantive dialogue.–that's an ideal n opportunity

@sharonite: we need “Open Leadership” in Open Data, it's all in the mindset & culture of the Leaders of this nation.

@kazitoshi: Social media is a nice front and all, but if backend systems and procedures aren't functional/agile then you can't manage.

@calvin_s: Governments should be FAST. Flatter; Agile; Slim; Tech-enabled

@sianjon: #GovCampSG Society 2.0 This breakout session is starting to sound like a Conference What happened to the Un in Un-conference? was a participant who enjoyed the discussions in the GovCamp

This session gave me 2 ideas:

Why not have a website to allow commuters to volunteer their commuting habits. Where they live, when they travel, from where to where, what do they use. If there is a sizable sample size, this publicly collected data could allow the authorities to better plan public transport?

Local developers at GovCamp mention that most data available at is not really usable, hence not possible to use or create anything. However, I think why think about just Singapore? Why not use available data overseas to create the app ideas and just show the relevant authorities locally and tell them if the data is available in a particular format, then the application can immediately be used in Singapore as well.
But the assumption is of cause the application is a good one.

Overall, I really enjoyed this GovCampSG and hope that it will be even better next year with even more breakout sessions and constructive ideas exchanges.

Roan Yong was a speaker who talked about gamification and collaboration

Collaboration is the most spoken word in private and public sector. But it is also the most misunderstood word. A lot of people take collaboration for granted. They assume that collaboration works like magic. And that open data, shared purpose, and similar ideas work like magical ingredients for collaboration.

In my talk, I intend to share my thoughts on why collaboration fails and what we can do to make collaboration works. I propose gamification as potential solution to the issues of collaboration.

Kirsten Han is an activist who facilitated a session

Singaporeans often appear to feel helpless or disempowered, as if there isn’t anything that they can do to change things they’re unhappy with. Yesterday we discussed this and more at the sessions, going into issues of self-censorship, peer censorship, fear (or at least the perception of there being something to fear) and whether society is really changing.

If you decide to join civil society in Singapore, or become an activist/volunteer, chances are that you’ll end up hanging out with the same lot of people a lot of the time

It was also wonderful to be able to meet people who never really knew much about civil society and “lesser-known” Singaporean issues before, but who made the effort to find out.

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