Singapore's Plan to be the First “Smart Nation”

The island city state Singapore, whose name literally means “the lion city,” is embracing an aggressive approach to adopting technologies related to the Internet of Things (IoT) and aims to create a “smart nation.” In fact, boosters liken the effort to the historic American engineering push that put a man on the moon. 

Under the auspices of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) just about everything in the home and in business and government will be smart and connected. Machine-to-machine connectivity is expected to help the performances of various industries, with implementation enabled by the roll out of a nationwide fiber network that is expected to serve 95 percent of the country.

One of the main government components in the process is the Smart Nation Platform (SNP) which aims to help connect, collect, and comprehend information. The platform, which recently garnered support from Microsoft, will deliver an operating system for use across the public sector and will be combined with access to wide-ranging sensor data which, in turn, will be managed, kept secure, and “anonymized” to deal with privacy concerns.  Specifically, Singapore’s Agency of Science, Technology and Research, working through its Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R), is partnering with Microsoft to establish a joint Reference Architecture for the Smart Nation platform.

To support the technology rollout, the country plans to build and install numerous “boxes” providing access to power and fiber connections and perhaps also hosting sensors.

While the initiatives are not targeted specifically at industry, they are expected to foster a climate of innovation and efficiency and, in at least one case, are being given credit for attracting new investment. Specifically, Emerson Process Management recently opened its Manufacturing and Integration center and has invested in its Pervasive Sensing Centre of Excellence (CoE).  The multimillion-dollar manufacturing and integration operation is the first for Emerson Process Management in Asia for its Rosemount Analytical technologies used in oil and gas production.

The Pervasive Sensing Regional CoE will focus on helping companies, especially manufacturers, perform data collection and analysis and will involve piloting technology in Singapore’s Jurong Island area, which already has a reputation for efficient and productive operations.

In fact, Smart Nation trials are also planned for the nearby Jurong Lake District, where the government hopes to test smart technologies across residential and commercial areas – fostering sustainable development.

For those beyond Singapore, the city-state-sized experiments could be a bellwether for similar development in larger and more geographically dispersed economies. In any event, SNP seems destined to further strengthen Singapore’s competitiveness.

See the November 2014 official launch announcement of Singapore’s “Smart Nation” program.