Singapore, a little red dot on the map, belies the epithet by being home to around 5.5 million people – possibly too dense for its size.
A tiny nation that not many will have credited with a shimmering future when it became an independent nation on August 9, 1965.
Singapore did not have to wait until 2015 to demonstrate to the world that it is more than an economic powerhouse, becoming an Asian Tiger (with South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan) decades ago enabled by rapid industrialisation.
World’s First Smart Nation by 2025
But technology does not cease to evolve, so Singapore has a constant focus on it and now has a 10-year plan to become the world’s first Smart Nation by 2025! Sensors will be rolled out across the country to further improve the quality of life for its citizens.
The sensors, to start with, can be in the form of computer chips or surveillance cameras. They are expected to help solve a range of problems from flooding to pollution. Here is a link that offers further insights into what a smart Singapore will entail.
Recently the government even announced its decision to build and own a separate telecommunications network to cater to its smart nation drive.
Free WiFi Alone Does NOT Make a Nation Smart!
Pervasive and free WiFi countrywide gives you connectivity wherever you are, wherever you go! Wirelessly, with LAN technology enabling high-speed communications among multiple devices and putting users online!
But that is the easy part as connectivity to the Internet is basic in today’s technology-powered world. Every modern city already delivers that, though not necessarily free!
In essence, just free WiFi does not make a country smart!
For the record, the free WiFi yardstick made El Hierro the world’s first Smart Island in 2013. Located in Spain’s Canary Islands, El Hierro’s WiFi network is also tapped to “monitor traffic, control forest fires and manage rubbish and water quality with sensors.”
Singapore is Already a Smart City
But Singapore, already a Smart City, has a broader vision. Ranked number 2 (following Seoul) among Smart Cities in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore has embarked on a 10-year plan to harness technology to significantly enhance the quality of life in this Intelligent Island.
With a network connecting all intelligent devices, from sensors to driverless cars, tapping the Internet of Things / M2M (Machine-to-Machine) Communications and digital/wearable technologies, Singapore aims to make life even more convenient for its citizens and emerge as the world’s first Smart Nation by 2025.
It will make Singapore more connected than ever and give it a nationwide citizen-centric environment where convergence will assume new dimensions, thanks to interconnection of billions of devices. It will redefine the technology landscape for an enhanced lifestyle.
The result will be significant enhancements to what we are familiar with:
- Connected Homes
- Connected Governance
- Connected Health
- Connected Buses / Trains
- Connected City
- Connected Everything
Connect, Collect and Comprehend
According to the IDA, “a key component in this vision is the new Smart Nation Platform (SNP), which is built around three focus areas: Connect, Collect and Comprehend. This will further Singapore’s capabilities in pervasive connectivity by building new infrastructure and common technical architecture to support a smart nation ecosystem.”
The mission involves integrating technology, networks and data seamlessly and “changing the way people live, learn, work and play”, to borrow a Cisco Systems’ catchline.
It will touch every sphere of activity, from governance to healthcare. It is an extension of earlier initiatives that included:
- the IT 2000 vision aimed at building a National Information Infrastructure
- the Singapore ONE (One Network for Everyone) drive
- iN2015 Masterplan to make Singapore an Intelligent Nation by 2015
- Setting up of the Next-Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN) in 2010
So, what’s different, one may ask?
With technology constantly evolving, Singapore is embracing them to bring about a dramatic transformation in lifestyle.
Without sitting tight on past laurels, Singapore is being alert to emerging technologies and building a platform to support the ecosystem and deliver benefits to people.
It can be expected to cover the full spectrum of life in Singapore, as captured in the following graphic from a Frost & Sullivan report that was used in a Forbes magazine article on smart cities.
All public agencies will connect to an operating system,
“so essential sensor data can be anonymised, secured, managed and shared.”
The benefits can be multi-pronged, including:
- The ability of the government to anticipate / meet the needs of citizens through insights gained from big data analysis and ensure better delivery of services
- Access to meaningful information, enabling citizens to make better decisions related to their key activities – transport, health, education, work, etc.
- Problem Solving, Innovative Ideas: The rich data that will be tapped can result in the emergence of new ideas and creation of innovative products and solutions.
- Better data insights can further help businesses improve their operations.
Huge Successes for a Tiny Nation
- is the world’s fourth biggest financial centre (after New York, London and Hong Kong) and a major commercial hub
- is one of the world’s busiest ports (toppled by Shanghai about a decade ago when China burst onto the scene)
- has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires, with studies showing that one out of every six households has at least one million US dollars in disposable wealth (excluding property)
- is one of the few countries with immense global clout and appeal with its citizens enjoying visa-free travel to around 180 countries, including to the U.S. and Europe
- a major transport and aviation hub with its Changi airport being consistently ranked as the best in the world
- holds a pre-eminent place in education with its National University of Singapore ranked among the 20 best universities of the world. Its Nanyang Technological University also regularly makes it to the top 100 list.
- …and much more
Not “All Talk, No Action”
Singapore is not a country that is all talk and no action, something that is common where populism sells.
On Target: It is one country that plans well ahead and goes about executing them without any distraction or fear about the next elections. It has been on target with every one of its initiatives, including that of making Singapore a metropolis within the first decade after Independence in 1965 and transforming it into an Intelligent Island by year 2000.
Perhaps come 2025 we will have the opportunity to say bingo and sing paeans to Singapore for its success in integrating technology, networks and data seamlessly and “changing the way people live, learn, work and play”, a Cisco tagline capturing the new-generation streak.
Some telecommunications statistics
- Total no. of mobile phones: More than 8 million against a population of 5.5 million (150% penetration rate
- Residential telephone lines: 2 million (100% household penetration)
- Internet Subscribership: 99%+
A detailed view is available at http://www.ida.gov.sg/Infocomm-Landscape/Facts-and-Figures/Telecommunications/Statistics-on-Telecom-Services/Statistics-on-Telecom-Services-for-2014-Jul-Dec
Singapore’s Smart Nation Vision
- Relevant Links
National Heritage Board – http://www.nhb.gov.sg/NHBPortal/
Most photos are taken from the Web through a Google search
A few other links
National Archives of Singapore – http://www.nas.gov.sg/nas/
SG50 – https://www.singapore50.sg/