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Singapore – a Smart Nation in the making!
Deepti Dilip Jobanputra
Singapore is easily any techie’s dream city. This little island harnesses technology to the fullest to better the lives of its residents by creating more opportunities, building strong infrastructure and designing a digital foundation. It is moving towards the vision of becoming the world’s first smart nation. So what is that you may ask? A smart nation means people and businesses are empowered through increased access to data, people are closely involved by contributing towards innovative ideas and solutions to everyday problems, and a very proactive government that utilizes technology to better serve the citizens’ needs and aspirations.
Building a state-of-the-art digital groundwork is key to building solutions for tomorrow. It requires putting in place the infrastructure, policies, ecosystem, capabilities and making sense of information by applying IoT, big data and insights from data – which is exactly what Singapore aims at doing. It’s tech-friendly governance is rapidly using innovations and solutions to enhance daily commute, transactions, healthcare facilities, security and overall bettering of the lives of people including the not-so-tech-savvy senior citizens. Who knows? Some of these innovations may hold the strength to also address challenges faced by many cities and countries!
Being smart together
Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative adopts a people-centric approach by supporting citizens, industries, research institutions, and the government to co-create innovative solutions. Government agencies aid this by sharing extensive real-time data in the public domain. This way, anyone can access the data resources and participate in generating solutions to real challenges. Many avenues are made available to public to contribute ideas and feedback towards building a better Singapore. To facilitate communication between the public and the providers of public service, many approaches have been put in order. Some of them include Mobile Apps (like Beeline, MyResponder, OneService and iHealth SG) or Hackathons organised by government agencies or corporations to offer budding technologists the opportunity to ideate and develop solutions to tackle real-world challenges.
Bringing smart ideas to life
Singapore may not be Silicon Valley, but it has built a good ecosystem to embody a booming entrepreneurial culture. With its stable economy and easy access to major markets, successful pilots can be scaled up and deployed quickly. The single-level government structure is conducive for people and businesses with big ideas to implement trials on a nation-wide scale while making significant progress on the projects. Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd, who works with corporations, universities and professional accelerators brings promising tech start-ups to accelerator programmes that are tailored to embrace different stages of maturity and/or industry verticals. Smart is thinking big even when you are small.
Technology has been introduced to the housing estates very well too. A Smart HDB Town Framework has been developed to guide this. The aim is to use smart technologies for estate planning, car parks, lighting and waste management. The HDB, Public Utilities Board and the Building & Construction Authority are already working with various corporations to test-bed a wide range of integrated systems solutions. The PUB, for example, is collaborating with Hitachi on sewage water leakage prevention and auto-management systems – infrastructure that is often hidden behind the scenes, but is incredibly important to daily life. Other areas being explored are energy efficiency, green buildings, and traffic flow management. Some residents in specific areas are also the first in a pilot project to experience ‘Smart Living’, to assess and provide feedback on how some of the solutions can better integrate with their day-to-day living before they could potentially be rolled-out in more areas.
As part of the efforts to create a more seamless transport experience, real-time transport information is provided digitally to the citizens to help them plan their journeys efficiently. For example, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) launched the MyTransport app for smartphones in 2012 which draws on existing bus and traffic monitoring systems to estimate bus arrival timings, space availability, and taxi availability data. Tying together technology and novelty, LTA is constantly inventing to provide more. Whether it’s seeking proposals on how driverless technology can be exercised or launching a trial for contactless mobile payment using wearable technology for convenient and faster mode of payment on public transits.
Because the elderly need smart technology too
Many countries now, Singapore included, have ageing populations with specialised healthcare needs – allowing them to ‘age in place’. Whether it’s letting them spend their final years in their own homes, rather than in care centres or providing constant monitoring to ensure the care they need or doctors having access to the elderly patient’s medical information, proves technology is a friend of everyone today. Working example, elderly patients at home can now wear miniaturized monitors that keep track of their vital signs and notify medical personnel if something happens to them. Over all, many hospitals in Singapore have already begun using IT to integrate their different healthcare services. Let’s take better care of the ageing, yeah?
As of today in Asia, many smart cities including Dalian in China and Kashiwa-no-ha in Japan, have already implemented smart grid technology to increase their energy sustainability and reduce carbon footprint. Singapore is accelerating towards its dream of turning into a smart nation, and the future already looks beyond smart!
Deepti Dilip, Marketing & Communications Head – Ashnik, Singapore
As the Marketing and Communications Head, Deepti oversees branding, marketing strategies and digital platforms at Ashnik for SEA and India. An ex-advertising soul with a passion for design and creativity, she’s constantly steering brand Ashnik to innovative podiums. She splits her time between a full-time gig at her job, lots of crazy hobbies and her new found role as a mother.
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