IPS online forum on 13 May 2020 — Private Data, Public good?

Published in
8 min readMay 19, 2020


OPPI is proud to have partnered with the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), an independent think-tank that studies and generates public policy ideas in Singapore, for an online forum poll on the 13 May 2020.

The second IPS online series discussed the use of personal data for public good during the current health crisis and its implications beyond COVID-19. Titled “Private Data, Public Good?” the 60-minute session was moderated by Dr Carol Soon, Senior Research Fellow and Head of Society and Culture at IPS. The virtual event attracted distinguished panellists from various academic institutions to discuss lingering concerns among the public about data sovereignty, privacy and security.

The IPS online webinar was held on Facebook live on 13 May 2020.

Our OPPI family was glad to support the virtual forum by aggregating and analysing the diverse range of perspectives shared by members of the public before the start of the forum. These views and opinions were used by the moderator and panellists to shape the content and direction of the virtual discussion. To read the summary of the virtual forum, click here.

The OPPI poll was conducted prior to the virtual forum here.

This blog will focus on the results of the poll so that survey participants can have a quick sense of what other members of the public think.


Presented here are the results of the poll taken on 14 May 2020 at 8am, after the online forum concluded.

A quick snapshot of the key poll figures.

It is worth noting that OPPI’s uniqueness and sophistication as a tool for public sentiment analysis lie in its emergent survey technology. An emergent survey is different from a traditional survey in that the statements that are voted on by the participants are co-created with the participants. In this forum, 12 seed statements were initially proposed by the organisers of the event, but a significantly larger number of 103 statements or perspectives were contributed entirely by the participants taking the survey. The added depth and breadth of perspectives by a much diverse and larger group of people serves to reduce biases or other cognitive blind-spots that decision-makers could succumb to in making decisions on complex, polarising and divisive societal issues.

When we compared the 103 statements contributed by the participants prior to the forum to the comments that rolled in live during the Facebook live virtual seminar, we found a strong correlation between the issues raised by both sets of participants. The linear presentation of comments on Facebook makes it extremely difficult for moderators, panellists or members of the public to keep track of, analyse and find patterns among these statements. OPPI is a far superior tool to social media platforms and online forums in analysing large numbers of opinions and comments and presenting the key aspects of the debate in a manner that is concise and that allows the debate to progress in a meaningful fashion.

Prior to and at the beginning of the conference, moderators and panellists were informed of the top three statements where the participants found common ground and were divided on. This barometer or quick pulse check of public sentiments allowed them to have a more meaningful discussion with their participants. The moderator was able to engage the audience better by steering the debate to issues that needed more attention.

The most salient aspects of the discussion were presented to the moderators and panellists prior to the conference. This allowed them to be more informed in engaging orators and discussants.

OPPI differentiates itself from current technologies in facilitating complex discussion by highlighting the common ground among the divisions, thus breaking potential deadlocks or impasses in future progress and collaborations between the groups that are divided.

Finding common ground is central to the ethos of OPPI because:

  1. It provides the first step to resolution when it seems like a deadlock.
  2. It allows the facilitator to nurture trust with the people when they identify what’s common for everyone instead of the divisions.
  3. It starts the process for self-awareness among the facilitator and the participants that beyond the immediate concerns and perspectives that colour the debate, there are other opinions that matter to others as well.

This was the statement with the most common ground.

Singaporeans were on the whole, fine with the government using their personal data as long as there were measures of accountability and transparency that were put in place by the government.

This was the most and only divisive statement in the poll. We will explain why it is the only divisive statement later in the article when we talk about OPPI’s proprietary decision-matrix.

The most divisive statement above provides a number of useful learning points or signals for policymakers. One month after the government launched the TraceTogether app, about 20% of the population subscribed to it, far short of the 75% required for it to be effective. This statement above suggests that people are actually divided on their fears of being tracked by the contact tracing app, which could be one of the reasons for its low uptake.

This piece of information allows public service officials to conduct deeper focus groups with the public to suss out the root causes for their fears.

Finally, communication messages can place more emphasis on allaying fears of the app’s ability to track and divulge personal location data.

Here are the three statements which people were most undecided about.

OPPI reveals the top statements that participants were undecided on.

OPPI allows the organisers of the forum to bring to the forefront the statements that people were undecided upon because they help policymakers, members of civil society and the general public to organise and frame future debates, deliberations, focus groups and forums on issues that need further probing, research and exploration.

What do we do with all these insights? How do we act upon them in a meaningful and useful manner? OPPI’s proprietary decision matrix allows key decision-makers to structure their next course of action according to the 5 different coloured buckets that are presented below.

Interact with the chart to find out more!

Firstly, decision-makers are aware of the green bucket of four common ground statements and thus act on them swiftly and decisively. This green bucket contains statements or potential solutions that most people have a common view on.

Secondly, four separate task forces could then be subsequently convened to dive deeper into and suggest separate strategies for the four other buckets, namely divisive, acknowledge, undecided, and emergent.

Thirdly, adequate resources can then be allocated across the four buckets to maximise our returns on investment of time, money and energy in these buckets. This matrix could be tracked over time to see how the different issues or statements are progressing.

It is worth noting that there was only one statement that was divisive in the entire poll. The debate was not as polarising as we had expected. This is in sharp contrast to OPPI’s first poll on the migrant worker issue in Singapore that had nine divisive statements.

Five statements were categorised as acknowledge statements. These grey statements indicate that participants have a lower consensus as compared to the four green common ground statements. The acknowledge statements indicate that there is a significant minority opinion on these issues and will require greater prudence and sensitivity in recognising the presence of alternative minority voices that should not be ignored. Decision-makers should engage the minority voices within these statements by addressing their concerns.

OPPI’s opinion clustering technology is another key differentiating feature of the OPPI product. The technology clustered the 332 active participants into three opinion groups. People with similar voting patterns are grouped in the same opinion group. An active participant qualifies for grouping if they vote on seven or more statements.

332 active participants were clustered into three separate opinion groups.

The three clusters of opinions or opinion groups are useful to both the organisers of the poll and the participants in the poll.

For the organisers of the poll, it helps them to create detailed and rich “audience segments” or “audience personas” and better under the audiences they are engaging so that targeted and meaningful content can be shared and break-out groups or post-seminar focus groups can be organised for each group.

For the audiences, it allows them to be more self-aware and understand what percentage of the audience think the same way as them and how much of the audience does not concur with them. It gives them space to reflect on the fact that not everyone shares the same opinion as them and that there are other mental models or perspectives to explore.

All three groups are concerned about their personal privacy, but there are some notable differences between the groups. Among all the three groups, group B was the only group to emphasise the importance of guarding access by independent safeguards. Group A participants are the only group that minds that data on their whereabouts are tracked. Group C participants are the only participants who are forthcoming with the use of digital contact tracing apps among all the groups.

The first layer of analysis allows us to conclude that the participants in the three groups are not significantly divided or polarised. There seems to be some homogeneity in the responses across the three groups. OPPI sheds further light in the debate by offering insights on common ground across all three groups, between groups A and B, between B and C and between A and C. This deeper layer of insights not only gives policymakers the confidence to go ahead and implement solutions around the homogeneous aspects of the debate but also points them to other areas they can quickly move on as they have already been identified as common ground.

Who are we surveying?

It is worth noting that the topic elicited more engagement and participation from young adults between the ages of 25-34, males and public servants than other segments of the population.


OPPI is a new way of crowdsourcing opinions and ideas, finding out what others think and creating consensus about issues we care about, quantitatively and qualitatively. OPPI aims to find common ground where people seem to be divided. We locate shared values and not what divides us. OPPI aims to sieve out these commonalities, through deep tech.

If you would like to be informed of OPPI’s official launch or want to know more about how to collaborate with our OPPI family, drop us a message at hello@oppi.live.



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