Gearing up for an increasingly digitised future, Singapore has consistently developed itself over the years to stay relevant in this ever-developing world. Enter the Smart Nation initiative – an all-encompassing plan launched by the government in 2014 that aims to enhance the quality of living in this city, foster stronger bonds within communities, and create more opportunities for all. It began as a strategy for the city to keep abreast with its rapid digital transformation and economic development, but today, it has become so much more than just a policy initiative. Paving the way for public administration reform and facilitating cross-government digitisation efforts, the initiative is well on its way in helping Singapore realise its ambition of being one of Asia’s “smartest” cities.
What Does the Initiative Focus on?
To help achieve its two main goals of enhancing its citizens’ lives and generating more economic opportunities for further growth, the Smart Nation initiative consists of three objectives: boosting economic development, resolving urban issues, and reinforcing communities within Singapore. Besides laying the foundation for economic opportunities and addressing national issues, it also wishes to create stronger bonds among its people through the introduction of state-of-the-art digital platforms that encourage interaction.
With the inevitable challenges that come with urbanisation and economic development such as demographic shifts and technology disruptions, it is vital for Singapore to safeguard its future in order to effectively cater to its citizens’ changing needs. As such, the initiative serves as both a solution for that as well as a long-term approach to building a better future for all.
By focusing on the development of five major areas, including transport, housing and environment, business opportunities, health industry, and public sector service, the initiative also builds on early digitisation efforts by the government for added efficiency. While the earlier digitisation initiatives had a stronger emphasis on improving overall productivity within the public service sector, the Smart Nation initiative is certainly much more in-depth as compared to its predecessors. It highlights a more extensive digitisation plan that aims to improve urban life in Singapore, through alliances with its citizens and local businesses.
How Has It Progressed Thus Far?
As a well-connected and digitally literate city, Singapore is equipped with an undeniable advantage that will bring its aim of being a Smart Nation into fruition. However, to complement that advantage, the initiative has kickstarted various efforts to assist it in its national development journey. To address urban issues like security, public transportation, cleanliness of the environment, and more, smart technologies were pilot-tested and input into neighbourhood districts within Punggol, Yuhua, and Jurong Lake. Such innovations include drones to survey dengue hotspots for effective prevention measures, a smart elderly alert system to provide peace of mind for caregivers, assistive technology within the healthcare industry, among others.
To anticipate its citizens’ needs, the government has also launched the OneService app, a one-stop platform that allows citizens to raise municipal issues of any nature, which the respective public agencies will aim to resolve once reported. The introduction of this convenient app effectively combines the resources of the different public agencies, like Housing Development Board, Land Transport Authority, and others, to make it easier for the people of Singapore to bring up concerns that are plaguing their neighbourhoods and surroundings.
On the other hand, the initiative has also been working closely with local Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to help them gain traction in the ever-competitive business landscape and open up new opportunities to contribute to the economic development of Singapore. By reinforcing local businesses with a variety of pro-business digital platforms for trade and data innovation, SMEs can stay competitive within their respective industries and in turn, attract foreign talents as well as investments.
Utilising technology to better the lives of its citizens is the main theme of the Smart Nation initiative and it has indeed enhanced various aspects of urban life within our city. Since its launch, it has made substantial progress every year, therefore it is definitely exciting to see what other plans the government has in store to improve our quality of living. With the world’s focus on the relatively new concept of using big data to create innovative solutions for urban issues, it will not be at all surprising if the government plans to incorporate that in this year’s objectives.
Besides, data innovation has already been explored in the recent plans that they have rolled out, so the plan may start to operate in full swing in years to come. According to the government’s wishes, achieving Smart Nation status is a goal that they wish to attain within the next decade and they have been steadily progressing with its extensive efforts thus far. By incorporating adaptability and integrated planning into their well-thought-out objectives, the Smart Nation initiative has evolved from being a mere development project to a spectacular journey that propels Singapore into the forefront of the increasingly digitised future.