Singapore ups the ante in smart nation drive
Singapore, August 10, 2016
Over the last two years, Singapore has been ramping up efforts to become a smart nation, one that leverages technology to improve the lives of its people. To raise awareness of these efforts, two conferences were held in recent months – the World Cities Summit 2016 and the Smart Nation Innovations Week which included four key events, Big Bang Data, Forbes Under 30 Summit Asia and InnovFest unbound.
In addition to a wide variety of sessions on everything from building resilient communities to financing a sustainable future for urban environments, the summit also featured a mayors’ forum, awards for the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize and a symposium for young city leaders.
Gaining faster insights from big data
A highlight at the Smart Nations Big Bang Data exhibition is Black Shoals: Dark Matter, which converts stock market data into an overhead visualisation that resembles a night sky of stars and constellations.
The ability to visualise data in a compelling manner is fast becoming a competitive advantage for enterprises. By presenting data visually, rather than poring over spreadsheets, organisations can quickly glean insights on, consumer behaviour and areas that require attention and improvement.
Take Virtual Singapore, for example. The 3D digital platform comprising data from both public and private sectors will enable city planners to derive insights, on say, traffic flows across the island, as well as run simulations such as crowd dispersion in public safety planning.
Forbes Under 30 Summit Asia
Part of a global franchise from Forbes, the Smart Nations Under 30 Summit Asia recognised the region’s “rising stars” in 10 areas: the arts; manufacturing and energy; entertainment and sports; consumer technology; finance and venture capital; enterprise technology; media, marketing and advertising; healthcare and science; social entrepreneurs; and retail and e-commerce.
Many of these rising stars offer valuable lessons for organisations looking to transform themselves digitally to better connect with new audiences, improve productivity and take their organisations to the next level.
Take 28-year-old Shirui Wang in healthcare for example. The co-founder and CEO of China-based Medlinker has created a service that not only lets doctors connect with one another to discuss treatment measures, but also enables physicians to perform initial diagnoses using artificial intelligence. The service could prove to be a boon for healthcare providers around the world looking to speed up healthcare triage and serve more patients.
During his keynote address at The Smart Nations InnovFest unBound Conference, Singapore foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan described some of the leading challenges the region is facing, including traffic congestion, fintech security and green energy.
In alleviating traffic congestion and providing seamless mobility for residents, for example, Singapore is exploring the idea of mobility as a service. What this means is that through a single platform, commuters can access different transportation modes – trains, buses, taxis, private hire cars or even personal mobility devices like bicycles – across their journey, depending on their destinations, traffic conditions and other factors.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for the World Cities Summit, Singapore President Tony Tan talked about the growing complexity of challenges faced by urban areas today. He also announced the release of Singapore’s Climate Action Plan, which sets out the region’s goals for improved resilience and carbon mitigation.
“Meteorological projections show that Singapore’s climate is changing and we are likely to face higher temperatures, more intense and frequent heavy rainfall events coupled with more pronounced dry seasons, and higher sea levels,” Tan said. “Singapore as a city-state with resource constraints has to rely on innovation to deal with our challenges.”
Such innovations include the use of solar panels on top of public housing blocks to tap the sun’s energy, in a bid to lower Singapore’s carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels. Pilot projects are also underway to equip Singapore homes with smart devices that help to monitor water and energy usage.
Bringing it all together
As Singapore works towards realising its smart nation vision, several cities around the world have also embarked on similar initiatives that bring together smart city innovations to improve the lives of people.
In Songdo, South Korea, for instance, commercial buildings have been fitted with smart building systems that help to minimise energy consumption while ensuring a comfortable work environment for tenants. In Dubai, local authorities have conceived a blueprint that will transform the city through 100 smart city projects – one of which involves fitting police patrol cars with cameras to automatically detect vehicle licence plate numbers.
Singapore’s smart nation efforts are already gathering pace – autonomous vehicle trials have been conducted at the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, along with a slew of smart nation trials such as smart bins and advanced video sensing at the Jurong Lake District. These trials, along with a tech-savvy population, booming start-up scene, highly connected infrastructure and some smart city planning, will pave the way for Singapore to become the world’s first smart nation.