Singapore already expressed its ambition to be a smart nation back in November 2014.
At the start of this initiative, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described the Smart Nation as a nation where “we can create opportunities for ourselves that go beyond what we thought possible”.
Essentially, Singapore’s Smart Nation Journey aims to transform Singapore through technology.
A smart nation makes full use of technology to improve the lives of its citizens, create more opportunities, and build stronger communities.
Nowadays, developments in digital technology are advancing rapidly and the next technology front – big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things, robotics and blockchain – will fundamentally change the global economy and the way we live and work. change.
A smart nation is an integral part of Singapore’s next phase of nation-building, providing opportunities to build on its strengths, overcome national challenges and physical boundaries, and discover new sources of comparative advantage.
In order to continue to be successful and relevant, Singapore must take advantage of digitization and the advantages that come with it.
So what would an intelligent nation look like?
In a smart nation, we will see change in key areas: health, transportation, urban solutions, finance, and education.
Our health system will shift beyond health care to health as Singaporeans are better equipped and empowered to take care of their own health.
Health services are efficiently provided where they are needed. Singaporeans are already using wearable devices or smartphones to monitor their health and activities, and this data can empower individuals and inform the delivery of services.
Photo credit: Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS)
Some national projects on this: HealthHub, Telehealth, assistive technology and robotics in health care
Data analysis, intelligent systems and autonomous vehicles are key solutions for the future of traffic planning and operation.
Our road and traffic system will be optimized, traffic will be smoother, public transport more comfortable and reliable, and the air cleaner with less need for a car.
Image source: Ministry of Transport
Some national projects on this: autonomous vehicles, contactless payment for public transport, open data and analytics for city traffic
3. Urban solutions
Our houses and properties are becoming safer, more comfortable and more sustainable. The use of sensors and intelligent systems will improve the effectiveness of municipal services, save energy and ensure sustainable use of resources.
PUB will install 300,000 smart water meters by 2023 / Image source: PUB
Some national projects on this: Attempt at automated meter reading (AMR) to make water consumption data easily accessible to consumers from the tap to the app, drones to investigate dengue hotspots, OneService app to provide the public with a common platform to deal with municipal problems to be reported in public institutions
Singapore will continue to be a leading regional and global financial center, powered by financial institutions eagerly adopting fintech solutions for better customer service, greater trade finance efficiency, increased oversight and lower compliance costs.
Digital technology opens up a new area of self-directed and collaborative learning. The relationships between students, teachers and parents, as well as the capabilities of the physical infrastructure, are expanded to create a holistic and conducive environment for effective learning.
Routine and repetitive tasks are also automated so teachers can focus on the important work. In the long term, Singapore will have to rethink its philosophies, content and learning modalities as technology evolves.
A smart nation will also involve every person and organization and take action to learn and adopt digital technologies.
Singapore has indeed developed plans that are mutually reinforcing to build a digital economy, digital government and digital society.
Digital Government Draft / Photo Credit: Smart Nation and Digital Government Office
This means that every industry, company, and government agency must accelerate their digitization efforts to fuel a nationwide movement powered by a society of digital citizens and communities.
This far-reaching change is illustrated by large national projects in areas such as digital infrastructure and the delivery of services that involve the public, private and human sectors.
Where do we stand in the Smart Nation Race compared to other countries?
According to the Smart City Index, Singapore was number one among the smart cities in the world for two years in a row (2019 and 2020).
Despite our outstanding performance, there is still a lot to do to maintain our position as the number one smart city in the world.
Smart city initiatives around the world / Image source: Singapore Computer Society
One of the initiatives currently under study in Helsinki is smart household waste management.
Refrigerators are equipped with intelligent sensors that monitor the expiration date of food. The homeowners will then be notified when the expiration date is approaching and given suggestions on how to use the food instead of throwing it away.
In Singapore, food waste is one of the largest waste streams with over 744,000 tonnes in 2019 alone. On the way to greater sustainability, Singapore should consider such digitization solutions in our upcoming Smart Town projects in order to better cope with our country’s food waste.
The multifunctional smart street lights in Zurich are intended to offer a number of advantages and services. It supplies electric cars with electricity, collects environmental data, records the flow of traffic, measures the level of a garbage can, identifies empty parking spaces and offers public WiFi.
While smart lighting is not a new concept for Singapore, our skills are limited to optimizing lighting usage and understanding trends in human traffic.
We’re moving at a fast pace, but not there yet
To achieve a smart nation, we are starting from a position of strength based on Singapore’s early investments in technology and connectivity infrastructure and strong institutions ready to seize these opportunities.
Singaporeans are also digitally literate and have a strong pool of talent who perform well in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines.
Although Singapore is making good progress, we are still at the beginning of the digital revolution and our Smart Nation initiative.
The effects of this digital age may not always be revolutionary in the short term, but fundamental changes in society and the economy can be expected in the coming decades.
Aside from the foreseeable future, Singapore needs to keep moving forward in this fast-paced space, continually evolving and transforming, and strengthening its skills and expertise so that we are prepared for the unknown.
We can secure our future by strengthening the link between science, industry and government, making strategic bets on pioneering technologies, and building strong relationships with the international community.
At its core, Smart Nation is about empowering its employees. Understandably, there could be some fears and tensions that technology will destabilize livelihoods, increase costs, and increase vulnerability.
However, if we recognize these challenges and address them directly, technology can lead to better jobs and business opportunities, greater security, and better livelihoods.
Highlighted image source: Siemens