Singapore is a relatively small place—an island city-state just 30 miles across. Politically speaking, it has been governed by the same party for decades. Its geography and political stability have allowed Singapore to position itself for the future rather uniquely as the world’s first “Smart Nation.”
This is a truly ambitious set of programs designed to bring all aspects of Singaporean life into the digital age – from waste management to transport to healthcare – and soon! The evidence that this plan is for real is reflected in the current reality in Singapore:
- A fiber network already stretches across the island.
- High speed internet access is offered to every home and office now.
- The current average is three mobile devices for every two of its citizens.
Now the government plans to pursue a number of advanced digital initiatives and install networks of sensors all across the island. The purpose? To collect information and then use that information to increase efficiency and quality of life for all of the many humans living together in this relatively small place. Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan (Singapore’s minister for foreign affairs and the minister directly in charge of the Smart Nation initiative) said:
“There is much political angst about inequality and middle-class stagnation in developed economies… In Singapore, we know that new technology trumps politics as usual.”
The Smart Nation at Home
More than 80 percent of Singapore’s residents—about 3.2 million people—live in affordable multiple-unit housing structures that are maintained by the nation’s Housing and Development Board (HDB). This is a tremendous number of people living in what is basically public housing — and the setup offers a near ideal testing ground for some Smart Nation ideas.
Approximately 9,000 residents in the Yuhua Estate were the first to be part of the Smart Home initiative – sensors have been installed in each apartment to track real-time energy and water usage and costs to help apartment dwellers keep an eye on what they’re using and what they’re wasting. Users will receive tips and tricks for conserving more, and alerts when the system detects anomalies that might be leaks or a faucet left running.
The pilot program will also test out Singapore’s new water reclamation system (hopefully reducing the country’s reliance on the billions of gallons of water it imports from neighbor Malaysia each year), attempt to prove the feasibility of a new vacuum waste-management system, and measure the ability to reduce the residents’ carbon footprints with solar panels.
Healthcare in the Smart Nation
Other precious resources being tracked? Grandma, Grandpa, and Great Aunt Betty. Busy breadwinners can worry a bit less while they’re at work – for around $10 per month they can subscribe to an Elderly Monitoring Service that comes with motion detectors, a door sensor, and a panic button to keep remote tabs on loved ones at home. The system even collects “comprehensive information about the elderly’s daily activities” and can alert family members to potential areas of concern like falls and insomnia.
“Tele-health” is another healthcare pilot that allows patients to get medical treatment without having to leave their home. Tablet computers guide rehabilitation patients through exercises, while sensors and camera capture footage for therapists to review remotely. The tablets can be used for virtual ‘face to face’ meetings between patients and physicians. This frees up hospital beds for those with the greatest need and spares the patient (and their ride!) the stress of travel to and from many appointments.
But the technology doesn’t end there. Singapore has added even more sensors to the city’s infrastructure to allow them track and crunch traffic data. Problem areas are identified and solutions proposed using the intelligence gathered – more taxis can be sent out in anticipation of rush hour, or users can see that the next bus has no empty seats and decide to linger over their latte a little longer. Private cars will get Smart too: the Smart Nation plans for all vehicles to have a government-mandated satellite navigation system by 2020. It is simply unprecedented – imagine the ability to know exactly where every car on every road in an entire country is at any one time. Move over Google Maps!
Most impressive of all is “Virtual Singapore.” The idea is that the information from the sensors is used to create a true-to-life virtual environment that in turn can be used to test everything from the impact changing a bus route will have on traffic to the effect building a skyscraper would have on the amount of sunlight received by its potential neighbors. You can see video of the incredible detail involved here.
Data will produce data and be used to solve problems, which will then create more data! And the government plans to invite investors and researchers in on the future action. Infocomm Media Development Authority Assistant CEO Khoong Hock Yun commented in WBA Vision Forum: Asia:
“We [are trying] to align the data sets so there are more opportunities for data to be discovered. And then allow interested, qualified, parties to come on board to solve new challenges.”
And Cloud computing is going to be a crucial part of this initiative, naturally:
“Cloud is the natural means for us to share limited resources to achieve results,” said Khoong.
Think of it – an entire smart city – indeed, a Smart Nation. The flow of water, electricity, traffic, information – all measured, adaptable, and directed right where needed. It’s the kind of thing that city planners could only dream of. Until now.
“If you visit Singapore, you should be able to say, ‘I have seen the future — and it works.'” – Dr. Vivian Balakrisknan
The future runs on data – real time stuff, and lots of it. It runs on the ability to track, monitor, alert, and react; to plan and manage. All of it is driven by the information being collected and sent to cloud. And the same principles that run the Smart Nation can help you run your company smartly.
5i Solutions brings you the ability to convert virtually any kind of information into digital smart data and then make that data work for you and your business. We offer cloud-based document management systems customized to work with your current systems and processes. Get comprehensive information about the daily activities of your precious resource. Worry less, increase efficiency, and reduce waste with automated processes and alerts. You may not need to calculate traffic or the wind-resistance of a proposed building, but you do too can have the digital future at your fingertips
Singapore— the Smart Nation. Your business– the “Smart Company.”
It can happen. The time is now. And 5i Solutions is how.
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