Over the past few years, businesses and industries have slowly adopted Industrial Revolution 4.0, such as in automation and data exchange in technology and processes including the use of artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). Brunei Darussalam has been actively improving its infrastructure to support digitalisation efforts which will benefit the whole population including small businesses and those who live in remote areas.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, rapid advancements were also made with much of the focus placed on digitalising the economy as the quick adoption of technologies was made to boost the efficiency of the Brunei Government’s services and processes.
Brunei continues to pursue improvements to the digital regulatory environment for businesses, developing policies and systems to create an interoperable market structure to shift from paper-based to electronic-based services.
Formed in April 2008 under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the E-Government National Centre (EGNC) functions as the centralised organisation that concentrates on IT in the civil service. The centre oversees the development of IT personnel and centralises procurement of IT equipment, in addition to providing common government-wide applications and shared IT services among all ministries.
In 2020, EGNC implemented the National Information Hub (NIH) to serve as a platform for information integration among government agencies in support of the sharing information initiative. Through NIH’s Single Repository, common and uncommon data can be obtained from trusted sources and supported by the back-end system of government departments or agencies in need.
Meanwhile, the One Government Network (OGN) is a specialised and secure government network infrastructure connecting government agencies nationwide to integrated E-Government services as well as Internet services controlled via a central gateway at the EGNC. As of November 2020, the service has been connected to as many as 931 sites nationwide.
The National Centralised Database (NCDB) provides a database infrastructure for the allocation of databases of the 11th National Development Plan (RKN II) projects that need improvement or a “technology refresh”. With the availability of this service, it will provide significant impact from the aspect of cost of software purchase and maintenance that is more economical and efficient as compared to buying software in “silo”.
Meanwhile, Brunei Open Data at data.gov.bn is a portal to support the open data initiative in Brunei enabling government agencies to share non-sensitive information with the public, facilitate access to data by agencies or free online download. Some 129 e-services from 34 E-Government systems have also been introduced and can be accessed through the GOV.BN portal at www.gov.bn. In addition, there are 20 government mobile apps that can be accessed and downloaded through the portal.
April 2020 saw the launch of the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) 2025 Strategic Plan (MTIC 2025) to align with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of of Brunei Darussalam’s aspiration for the country to transform into a Smart Nation.
With its new vision of a ‘Connected Smart Nation’ and the mission of ‘Enhancing Connectivity for Great Socio-Economic Opportunities, Innovation and High Quality of Life’, the plan is also in concert with the three goals of Brunei Vision 2035: ensuring high quality of life; boasting highly educated and skilled workforce; and having a sustainable and dynamic economy.
The ministry’s approach is guided by six core strategies: digital transformation; supporting participation and innovation from stakeholders in ICT; ensuring safety standards in transport and ICT sectors; ensuring the policy and regulatory framework is conducive to investments and businesses; organisational transformation; and enhancing international cooperation.
In 2022, the ministry achieved an overall 35.9 per cent of its 34 key performance indicators (KPIs) of the six core strategies under MTIC 2025 within the first year of implementation at the end of 2021.
Other major launches by the ministry in 2021 include a pilot project to promote and raise awareness of the transition to use 5G in the future; the establishment of the Council for Research and Advancement of Technology and Science (CREATES) to replace the Brunei Research Council and National Working Committee on science and technology as a measure to spur research and development activities; and the updating of TransportBN mobile app to facilitate services provided to the public to apply for road tax and driving license in digital form.
The Digital Economy Council was established to replace the functions of the Brunei Darussalam National IT Council and drive the country towards becoming a ‘Smart Nation’. In 2020, the Digital Economy Council launched the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 to guide efforts towards achieving economic prosperity and sustainability through digital transformation.
Projects under the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 include the National Information Hub as an easy information sharing platform; digital ID to enable public access to government services at any time; and Digital Payment Hub to ease payment processes using smart devices.
In 2022, the Digital Economy Council launched the Brunei Innovation Lab (BIL) to help local businesses scale up by leveraging on technology to produce smart solutions in addressing real world problems and creating new opportunities. BIL focusses on 10 new and emerging technology areas: AI, robotics and automation, blockchain, cloud computing, data analytics, digital twin, Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing and cybersecurity.
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