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Using Data to Power Singapore into a Smart Nation

By Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

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Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

Singapore announced its plans to build the world’s first Smart Nation in 2014.Coming on the cusp of the country’s 50th year of independence in 2015, this ambitious vision was a testament to the foresight of the island-state in tackling global mega trends which it is not immune to, namely, urban density and the ageing population. With a population of 5.5 million as of June 2015, and  one in five Singaporean estimated to be 65 years old by 2030; Singapore has to find a solution fast to address the social, physical and economic implications of these mega trends. Its solution? Harness technology on an unprecedented scale.

One of the world’s most connected and technologically-advanced  countries, Singapore hopes that as a Smart Nation, it can achieve the goals of empowering citizens, building  a more anticipatory government and creating business opportunities  for new and existing industries. And Singapore believes that other than the hardware, data analytics and sense making will help it to achieve these goals. The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) is championing Singapore’s Smart Nation drive by creating a resilient and trusted  nationwide sensor connectivity network---called the Smart Nation Platform (SNP)---to collect data from sensors, analyze and share insights on an open platform for government  agencies to create beneficial services and apps for citizens. The ethos of SNP can be encapsulated by the  four “Cs”- “Connect”, “Collect”, “Comprehend” and “Create”.

Connectivity

Singapore completed its deployment of a Next Generation Broadband  Network, and today, the fibre network reaches nationwide to all  households and businesses. This is further Complemented by one of the largest federated public Wi-Fi coverage in the form of the Wireless@SGprogramme and the use of 3G and 4G networks for delivery of mobile data services. The country came in first in the Global IT Report (Networked Readiness Index) 2015.

The next phase of the Smart  Nation initiatives includes technology  development and innovation in  wireless networks, starting with trials in the area of Heterogeneous  Networks. The vision is to enable the best experience in seamless  connectivity, regardless of the type  of wireless network available. The country’s three mobile network operators—SingTel, StarHub and M1---as well as a retail service provider,MyRepublic, are partnering the IDA in a series of trials to pilot HetNet  technologies and coverage in high rise residential flats, shopping malls, train station platforms and even  inside buses.
Beyond homes and businesses,the SNP also seeks to bring connectivity infrastructure to the streets. This comes in the form of Aggregation Gateway (AG) Boxes which are deployed together with shared sensors to pilot a wide variety of solutions focusing on three main areas – urban mobility,sustainability, and improving sensing and situational awareness.These AG Boxes provide power and high speed connectivity to the shared sensors and function as an intermediary in the reception of data from sensors, and transmission of this data to the Smart Nation

Operating System (SN-OS).

Collecting and comprehending data

The SN-OS will be the platform that  allows IDA to consolidate data from the nationwide sensor network. The SN-OS will have data fusion, sense making and exchange capabilities. Data, on its own, is pretty much  meaningless; but the SN-OS will be able to derive actionable insights from data received and facilitate the sharing of this data, based on end-users’ requirements. The IDA will also develop a set of standards as well as implement best of breed security measures to govern the  collection and sharing of data from the SNP.
Creation

SNP will ultimately help agencies to become more responsive to citizens with the creation of applications and services that are citizen centric, using situational data. Smart algorithms will determine the movement of vehicles and pedestrians at traffic junctions and make automatic adjustments  to traffic light signals to ensure a smooth traffic flow. Advanced video sensing technologies will detect people smoking in prohibited areas. Park lighting will have their brightness adjusted automatically based on the time of the day and motion sensors. Video analytics and smart bin technologies will identify public areas that require cleaning. Urban planners will be armed with real-time environmental information such as temperature, relative humidity and air quality to help them create comfortable outdoor spaces for social gatherings.

Data from the SNP may also be made available to the private sector and industry eventually, leading to the advent of new technologies or services to benefit citizens and cocreation  opportunities for businesses to power the economy.

“Singapore is confident that with the SNP, we can harness and leverage data effectively on a national scale to enhance the lives of citizens and sharpenour economic advantage”

Singapore is confident that with the SNP, we can harness and leverage data effectively on a  national scale to enhance the lives of  citizens and sharpen our economic  advantage. Smart Nation is more than just building infrastructure, this is a journey where all parts of  the ecosystem – from citizens to government to industry – have to work hand in hand to transform the  future together.

The Aggregation Gateway (AG) box (circled) will provide power and  high speed connectivity to shared  sensors, and collects real-time  situational and environmental data from these sensors to help government agencies provide better services to citizens, as part of Singapore’s Smart Nation Platform  infrastructure.

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