Preparing for the next-generation Smart & Safe City and Industry 4.0

Singapore, January 9, 2018

Preparing for the next-generation Smart & Safe City and Industry 4.0

As we prepare for a future enabled by digital transformation, cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and robotics will play critical roles in helping us make better use of data and unlock the full potential of next-generation Smart & Safe City and Industry 4.0.


Smart cities in a hyper-connected world

Today, we see technology permeating every facet of daily life, accelerating the pace of change. People and things are connected globally via the Internet. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, there are now as many people as there are mobile subscriptions and every second, 20 new mobile broadband subscriptions are activated.

We also have the Internet of Things (IoT) growing at breakneck speed. By the year 2020, Gartner estimates that 21 billion devices will be connected to the Internet – everything from light bulbs, to cars to clothing – each capturing different types of information.

To make sense of all this avalanche of data, we will need to find new ways to extract useful insights in a timely manner, new technologies to augment our capabilities so that we are able to act on them on the fly.  

For example, in the hyper-connected Smart & Safe City of the future, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence can lead to the creation of self-learning systems that are able to analyse data from social media chatter, sensors and other sources and recommend actions to take so that we can better manage or even prevent security incidents.

For enterprises, these technologies can help them tap on data from different sources to create a holistic view of the customer and customise services for delivery at the point of demand.

To address the challenges presented by rapidly ageing populations, cognitive systems can complement human specialists in providing healthcare consultations. Robots can also help with eldercare even as Singapore’s citizen old-age support ratio (the ratio of younger working adults to non-working elderly) looks set to drop from 5.7 today to 3 by 2025.

As we look to unlock the possibilities of Industry 4.0, we see a future where cyber-physical systems powered by data, artificial intelligence and robotics redefine the concept of just-in-time production and open up new opportunities in mass customisation and “manufacturing in-place”.

To transform these possibilities into reality, Singtel/NCS will be strengthening our capabilities in these key technology areas through R&D collaborations with world-class research teams, and creating a new Product R&D division.


Investing forward in R&D

Under a five-year partnership that was inked on 4th December 2017, Singtel, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore and the National Research Foundation Singapore will jointly dedicate S$42.4 million to create the Singtel Cognitive and Artificial Intelligence Lab for Enterprises@NTU (SCALE@NTU), focused on developing impactful technologies that are applicable in many industry sectors including transportation, healthcare and manufacturing.

The NTU team will be led by Professor Prof Ong Yew Soon from the University's School of Computer Science and Engineering, who was recognised as one of “The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds” in a report published by Thomson Reuters in 2016. Prof Ong is best known for his research in artificial intelligence and data analytics and his work has led to applications ranging from action games to the design of aerodynamic aircraft parts.

We will also enter into a Master Research & Collaboration Agreement with A*STAR to conduct translational R&D in the fields of service robots, factory of the future and industrial IoT.  This allows Singtel/NCS to rapidly tap on R&D expertise from the nine research institutes of A*STAR to address near-term market needs.

Under this agreement, we will also take up membership with the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) which seeks to develop industry-leading capabilities in areas such as advanced remanufacturing, advanced robotic applications, intelligent product verification and factory of the future.


Translating R&D into usable products

Singtel/NCS, on our part, will create a new Product R&D division to accelerate the incorporation of new inventions into products that Singtel/NCS will bring to market. “We are very excited about the possibilities SCALE@NTU brings,” said Dr. Tan Kar Han, who recently returned to Singapore from Silicon Valley to lead the new organization. “Leveraging our deep domain expertise in Smart & Safe City solutions, Singtel/NCS is in a great position to invent and build truly world-class products.”

By translating emerging technologies into solutions that address challenges in real-world scenarios, this R&D effort will help enterprises, entire industries and the nation as a whole to push the envelope in digital transformation, paving the way for the next generation Smart & Safe City and Industry 4.0.