Singapore has made a quantum leap in the last few decades from being a regular country to being one of the most technologically advanced places in the whole world. As the country aged through the decades, it has incorporated technology into everything, essentially making it its major driving engine. From its water distribution to its impact on the environment, it has become a model country in the usefulness of technology.
As the concept of smart cities becomes more mainstream, it is difficult to ignore Singapore. Even before its Prime Minister announced the country’s new direction towards becoming the first Smart Nation, Internet of Things (Iot) technology has permeated the country, preparing it for the change.
More over, this push towards technology can be observerd in othe countries. For instance, India is developping smart cities such as Bhopal and Bhubaneswar.
Is Singapore a Smart Nation?
To answer this question, there is first the difference in terminologiesꟷSmart City and Smart Nation. However, the difference is simply that while Smart City refers to metropolitan cities using sensor technology to improve their efficiency, Smart Nation is the designation used when an entire country makes the shift to more efficient and sustainable means of operation.
Furthermore, to judge if Singapore is a Smart Nation, we need to first of all ask another question: How does Singapore do on a smart city ranking? To answer this question, a comparison should be made between Singapore and other Smart cities like New York, Tokyo, and London.
We need to consider what makes a smart city. Features like smart parking and an efficient transportation system are observable in Smart cities, and they contribute to how the place is defined. Other features would include:
- Reduced carbon footprint, and impact on the environment
- Seamless communication systems
- Advanced security
- Improved quality of life
Since the Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong launched the Smart Nation initiative in 2014, the country has already made significant strides. Particularly in the following areas:
- Reduced carbon footprint: the efficient distribution of power and transportation resources ensures that the city’s assets are maximized. And this reduces the carbon footprint.
- Seamless communication systems: This is already in place, with people being able to receive consultation for non-emergency cases via video conferencing. This also contributes to increasing the quality of life of the inhabitants of Singapore
- Advanced security: The “bird’s eye view” provided by the multitude of sensors and monitoring devices all over the city gives authorities more oversight, and thus provides greater security for it’s citizens.
So to answer the question, yes. Singapore is a Smart Nation. And unlike the governmental efforts in cities like Zurich and Amsterdam, the government of Singapore aims to use the Smart Nation initiative to integrate the whole country as a whole. Considering the fact that the initiative was introduced in 2014, it is one of many smart city ideas that has taken off with a significant amount of speed and impetus.
This could be attributed to the fact that Singapore is not a relatively large nation, and must thus try harder to keep pace with the current trends in the world, especially as they relate to infrastructural development, efficiency and sustainability.
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Singapore as a Smart Nation and digital government office
In the past, there have been concerns that Singapore might not have the most effective system of implementing new policies, and contributing to positive change in general. The claims were that the government was always expected to lead the charge, with everybody else following. True as this may be, it is undeniable that the government does have a significant role to play in the progress of the nation.
That’s why the initiative began at the very top of government. Additionally, The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), under the Prime Minister’s office is in charge of planning and prioritizing key smart nation projects, driving transformation for he government into a more digital friendly form, as well as building long-term capacities for the public sector. The SNDGO is also responsible for leading the development of a nationwide Digital Identity frame work that will serve as a platform for online transactions between businesses and the citizens of Singapore.
What is Vision 2030 Singapore?
The Smart Nation Initiative began with a variation of the question: How can Singapore better serve its citizens? So also, that’s how the Vision 2030 began, but with a sport related twist. It was more of trying to figure out how sports could serve Singapore and its citizens in the years and decades ahead. The answer to the question is a comprehensive plan that enables Singapore’s sporting teams to achieve success. Several initiatives have since been launched to support this goal. The project is jointly led by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and the Singapore Sport Council. Some of the project’s goals include:
- SpexScholarship which is a boost and an encouragement from the government to the country’s elite athletes to enable them pursue their sporting dreams.
- Disability sports master plan which has the goal of expanding the horizons of persons with disabilities. The mission is to ensure that they have opportunities to participate in sports, and develop organizational and professional capabilities.
- Team Nila which is a platform that creates opportunities for individuals with various backgrounds to give back to the society and volunteer. The volunteers help support the mental and physical development of children and youth, as well as assist health trained experts in their jobs.