Microsoft, IDA To Develop Community-Based Web Services

Microsoft and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) have inked a memorandum of intent (MOI) to jointly launch a nationwide Web services initiative called .NET MySingapore, the first of such project in the world.

According to the acting CEO of IDA, Leong Keng Thai, the project would be valuable on several levels: “In an age of expanding connectivity, Web services are an important emerging technology. Globally, Web services are expected to be a business worth US$34 billion by the year 2007. Singapore aims to be at the leading edge of this new technology, and this is a great opportunity for us to build national skills in Web services, improve the lives of Singaporeans, and create a new wave of opportunities for entrepreneurs.”

The two-year collaboration between Microsoft and IDA will begin with the establishment of a steering group including representatives from the public and private sector. Studies will then be conducted with potential user groups to understand their needs.
Once completed, .NET MySingapore will encompass a range of community-oriented Web services that will save people time and take the hassle out of many daily tasks.

What Web services do is to enable computers to compile and share information in a way to help users more conveniently manage their time and their tasks. Everyday tasks such as booking a taxi, enrolling in a course, searching for a job, or even organizing dinner with friends are made easier with Web services.

All the user has to do is set the parameters for what information they are willing to share with whom. Then they can benefit from functions like MyAuthentication that offers one single log-in for all their on-line activities.

MyCalendar allows them to sync their calendars with the calendars of their friends, colleagues or service providers while MyNotification gives them to ability to dictate how they want to be notified for certain messages, whether it is by telephone, short messaging service (SMS) or email.

These functions will be available for community-based Web services in Singapore when the pilot launches in August 2002. Ten thousand people are expected to participate in the pilot.

After the trial, there will be further initiatives launched. This includes the creation of additional community Web services that enable Singapore citizens to easily access and utilize community services. It will also include working with an academic partner to develop new training curriculum and the world’s first program for certifying Web services professionals, and establishing a Microsoft .NET Professional Certification.

In addition, there will be a Microsoft-IDA overseas development program designed to provide Singaporean developers better access to new Web services technologies developed by Microsoft in the United States. This will involve the creation of a position at Microsoft’s research facilities in Redmond, Washington, co-funded by Microsoft and IDA.

Establishment of an emerging technologies lab with IDA and EDB (Economic Development Board) to jointly explore new technologies in cooperation with both academia and industry is also expected. This is another vehicle used to bring the .NET environment closer to Singapore. The lab would work with researchers to investigate new programming approaches and then test them in Microsoft’s real-world software development environment.

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