Singapore has established a new cloud cluster to enhance the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) applications by government agencies. The AI Government Cloud Cluster, which is hosted on Google Cloud, aims to increase AI adoption in the public sector and support research into how AI can be applied. The platform includes builder tools for generative AI applications, which can be used by developers with varying coding skillsets and limited technical knowledge to build chatbots and search platforms. The cluster also provides toolkits to guide government agencies on deploying AI applications responsibly, based on explainable AI and data governance principles.
The AI Government Cloud Cluster runs within a dedicated environment on Google Cloud, where the U.S. vendor’s AI technology stack and partner applications are available for deployment. These resources include A2 supercomputers running on Nvidia’s A100 GPUs and a repository of AI models, running first- and second-party as well as open source platforms, which government agencies can customize for their specific requirements. The AI models span multi-language text translation, audio-to-text conversion, and software coding.
The cluster can be accessed via the Government on Commercial Cloud (GCC) platform, which provides a central infrastructure for local government agencies to deploy commercial cloud services. Running on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure, the GCC is part of a five-year roadmap to move the public sector’s on-premise IT systems to commercial cloud platforms. GCC is managed by Government Technology Agency (GovTech).
With SG$1 billion ($742.6 million) earmarked for cloud applications in the government’s current fiscal year, GovTech said it is en route to hit its target of moving 70% of its systems to the commercial cloud. Currently, 66% of eligible government systems run on the architecture. The new AI cluster runs on the second iteration of the government’s platform, GCC 2.0, which is integrated with cloud-native capabilities and enhanced cloud security practices.
GovTech has partnered with Google to run training programs to help all government agencies build up their data science and AI skills, establish AI strategies, and adopt data government best practices. This approach is an extension of an existing collaboration to bolster AI skillsets within Singapore’s public sector, encompassing 150,000 officers across 16 ministries and 50 statutory boards. The Ministry of Communications and Information has also said it will work with Google Cloud to drive the country’s AI strategy, including plans to develop relevant skillsets and cultivate local AI technologies through an AI model marketplace hosted on the cloud platform, where local companies can tap Google’s AI models and tools to develop their applications.
In addition, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is working with Google to identify use cases and jointly create and test generative AI applications, based on responsible AI guidelines. The local central bank will also be looking to boost its technical capabilities in generative AI. Data insights have helped the government agency achieve IT operations efficiencies, with significant savings in manpower resources, while data analytics and visualization are used to support investigation of networked and financial crime.
Chan Cheow Hoe, SNDGO’s government CTO and senior advisor for the Singapore Economic Development Board, said that several global “shifts” have underscored the need for a new approach to technology, with AI and cloud playing key roles. Speaking at the Google summit, Chan pointed to environment and technology changes and said people now want to know the impact digitalization has on the environment and on their personal security. More people are exposed to cybersecurity risks and investors want to see results, with businesses having to work harder for every dollar.
With technology now omnipresent and touching every facet of daily life, Chan stressed the need to safeguard customers and citizens and ensure systems and services are trusted. Otherwise, no one will want to use the technology. There have also been big technological shifts and he pointed to cloud, alongside SaaS (software-as-a-service), and generative AI as the key ones that hold significance. Heralding the Singapore government’s cloud journey, which began seven years ago, Chan said the move was important.