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Singapore businesses encouraged to share datasets via new platform

Businesses operating in Singapore are being encouraged to make their datasets searchable on a new central platform in a bid to better publicise available datasets and enable the information to be put to use by others.

The 'data-as-a-service' DaaS platform is part of Singapore's bid to become the world's first smart nation, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) in the country said. The pilot initiative will run until 31 March 2016 and is free for businesses to participate in.

"To tackle difficult urban challenges in areas such as healthcare and energy, we need to capture and analyse massive amounts of data, and use that situational awareness to take meaningful actions," Steve Leonard, executive deputy chairman of the IDA, said. "It is exciting for us to be exchanging ideas with top leaders in this space. Our goal is to challenge ourselves to keep finding new ways to better use data to serve citizens of all ages."

Technology law expert Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint venture partner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said there were legal issues that businesses need to consider when making datasets public.

"Big database owners in Singapore should be mindful of their obligations under data protection legislation as collectors of personal data," Tan said. "Further, the issue of ownership of databases should be carefully crafted in light of the Punters’ Way case which held that although databases qualify for copyright protection as literary works in the form of compilations, where authorship is in dispute, authorship requires human authors."

The IDA said there was currently "no coherent mechanism" for data users to identify datasets belonging to businesses that they could make use of. Businesses that make their data searchable via the DaaS platform will retain control over the terms they make that information available for others to use, it said.

"Data providers are encouraged to profile their datasets using a set of data quality metrics, and provide these metrics for users through the dataset catalogue," the IDA said. "This will assist users to appreciate the quality of the datasets of interest, and also allow for comparison between similar datasets. These metrics can be generated either by using a set of guidelines or with data quality tools."

"Upon discovering datasets of interest, users will be able to reach out to the data providers and facilitate access to the datasets — either by monetary transfers, licensing regimes or other forms mutually agreed upon by both parties," it said.

The IDA has separately announced that a new system which allows businesses to monitor the performance of cloud computing services in real-time has been included within its Cloud Service Provider Registry.

It has also launched a new accreditation scheme for bodies that wish to be involved in certifying whether or not cloud providers adhere to a cloud security standard the IDA launched last year. Cloud service providers will be required to adhere to the standard to be eligible for "future public cloud service bulk tenders from the government" in Sinagpore, the IDA said.

"The new accreditation programme provides a stringent set of criteria to ensure that certification bodies conduct good certification practices in accordance with international best practices," Steven Tan, group director for quality and standards at SPRING, a Singapore government agency, said.

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