With the application of BI (behavioural insights) gaining traction worldwide and Singapore too is showing some progress applying BI to public policies and programmes, there is a tremendous untapped potential of BI which needs to be explored.
Speaking at the Behavioural Exchange 2017 (BX2017), the leading international behavioural insights (BI) conference, Mr Peter Ong, Head of Civil Service in Singapore said, “Faced with a rapidly changing environment and a more savvy population, the Public Service needs to continually innovate to deliver policies and programmes that are people-centric, effective and timely. How can we do more with less, and in a way where citizens are meaningfully engaged?”
He further acknowledged the efforts of Singapore public agencies in integrating BI into public policy and spoke about how the Public Service can use BI to address complex and large-scale challenges, catalyse collaboration, and combine it with other evidence based tools to create innovative and productive solutions to policy problems.
“Ultimately, we are designing solutions for real people and not idealised actors. Because human behaviour is so complex, we must use a combination of BI and different tools to understand and shape decision-making,” Ong added.
In their 2017 report on “Behavioural Insights and Public Policy”, the OECD gathered more than 100 case studies and concluded that BI “can no longer be seen as a fashionable short-term foray.” International organisations such as the UN are looking to use behavioural insights to further their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and many governments are experimenting with nudges.
Highlighting use of BI in some of the progressive areas in Singapore are:
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With an impressive list of speakers including policy-makers, practitioners, and thought leaders, BX2017 has attracted over 400 attendees, who will learn about and discuss practical examples of how BI has been applied in different contexts and environments, from public, private and non-profit sectors, to physical and online environments.
The two-day conference brings together more than 50 speakers from various fields and around the world to discuss how BI can create sound policies and citizen-centric programmes. For instance, using a citizen-centric lens rather than an agency-centric approach allows us to think about how best to cluster and deliver services, and provide support at key moments of citizens’ lives.
Mr. Ong concludes saying, “Finally, BI is not a silver bullet. It is by understanding how BI can be used in combination with other evidence-based tools that we can provide robust insights and come up with innovative and productive solutions to policy problems. To tap the potential of BI, we will need to learn from each other’s experiences, stretch our imaginations on how it can be used, and ultimately put things into practice.”
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