Singapore tops AI readiness index

By on 27/05/2019 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Future city: Singapore is best prepared to use AI in government, says new Index (Image courtesy: Erwin Soo).

Singapore has been named as the country best prepared to realise the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in public service delivery, topping the 2019 Government AI Readiness Index.

The South-East Asian city-state pipped the UK, the previous year’s winner, in the index compiled by consultants Oxford Insights. Reviewing progress on public sector AI in 194 countries, the ranking examines how well placed nations are to take advantage of the benefits of AI in their internal operations and the delivery of public services.

The Index highlights the variations between higher- and lower- or middle-income countries, with the former consistently achieving higher scores. The top five performers are Singapore, the UK, Germany, the United States and Finland, whilst Africa and the Asia-Pacific countries crowd towards the foot of the listings.

Unequal access

“This is a timely reminder of the ongoing inequality around access to AI,” the report comments. “Considering the disparities highlighted in this report, policymakers should act to ensure that global inequalities are not further entrenched or exacerbated by AI.”

But Isaac Rutenberg, director of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) at Strathmore Law School in Kenya, believes there is reason for a measure of optimism in Africa. “There have been a number of developments over the past year that point to a growing AI scene across the region,” he said. “Local AI labs and research centres are appearing throughout Africa, such as the announcement in June 2018 that Google are to open their first African AI research hub in Accra, Ghana.

“Other examples include the University of Lagos, which launched Nigeria’s first AI hub in June 2018.”

Last month, Uganda’s IT minister Frank Tumwebaze told Global Government Forum that the East Africa Community is planning to establish an Information Access Centre to improve the use of digital technologies among its member nations.

Measuring preparedness

Each government’s overall score in the Index was calculated using 11 input metrics, grouped under four high-level clusters: governance; infrastructure and data; skills and education; and government and public services.

Hannah Miller, one of the Index’s authors, commented: “AI has the power to transform the way that governments around the world deliver public services. In turn, this could greatly improve citizens’ experiences of government. Governments are already implementing AI in their operations and service delivery, to improve efficiency, save time and money, and deliver better quality public services.”

According to professional services firm PWC, AI is expected to add about US$15 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

About Glen Munro

Glen Munro is a journalist and ghost writer, who has worked for numerous trade publications and national newspapers during his career. Some of the publications he has worked for include the Daily Express, Independent, Evening Standard and Mail Online. The topics covered during Glen’s career include personal finance, financial markets, travel, international and home news. Glen studied magazine journalism at Westminster University.

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