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How Singapore’s Smart Nation project will affect communications

The Infocomm Authority of Singapore (IDA) has mapped out a vision to create a comprehensive data pool, with government agencies as well as corporates having access to build new technical infrastructure.

Called the Smart Nation Platform (SNP), the massive project is aimed at driving connectivity in Singapore, as well as creating a database to build new tech infrastructure on. This is expected to affect areas such as transport, healthcare, communications, governance and business.

This will also create business opportunities for firms with experience in communications to work on the project. Marketing understands the IDA is currently in talks with several major social networks as well as tech players and agencies. Earlier the IDA also kicked off industry round tables to source for views on SNP. Forty four companies have since been short-listed, with their names not mentioned.

As many corporates move their businesses as well as marketing efforts towards a data-driven strategy, this has massive implications for both the government as well as the corporate sector, allowing for even more personalised targeting.

However, this also drives concerns of cyber security, which the IDA has mentioned it is looking into, without further details.

There are four phases to the project, as articulated by the IDA: connect, collect, comprehend and create.

Connect – better connectivity for tech innovation

In the “connect” phase, the aim is to drive higher connectivity and create a “communications backbone” to collect data for SNP. Under this, the IDA has created a heterogeneous network (HetNet) programme, where it is aiming to increase the nation’s capacity for broadband data traffic. This is expected to boost coverage and capacity in Singapore allowing for higher bandwidth.

This will also allow consumers to roam across different environments covered by networks of different mobile technologies and have seamless access to the internet. This means users will be connected even if a single network is down.

A series of trials with all the four telcos, Singtel, StarHub, M1 and MyRepublic, will be conducted in Q3 this year, and first be rolled out in the Jurong Lake District. Some of the locations include lifts, pedestrian walkways, bus interchanges and MRT stations. Each telco will roll out its own HetNet test circuits.

In the long run, this is aimed at building an infrastructure to allow applications such as tele-medicine, autonomous vehicles, remote learning and more.

For businesses, this means access to more comprehensive data nationally.

Collect and comprehend – real-time analysis across the country?

According to the IDA, there will be a deployment of an operating system that enables public agencies to be plugged into a data pool, where sensor data can be “collected, anonymised, protected, managed and aptly shared”. This will allow the government agencies to create more responsive and anticipatory services for citizens, it said.

Create

The opening speech by IDA’s executive deputy chairman Steve Leonard opened the discussion to the tech industry, inviting corporates and entrepreneurs to partner and “challenge” the IDA for the project. Tech companies were invited to create technologies and business models with the Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) for commercialisation.

Areas where the industry can collaborate with the IDA on are:

  • A communications infrastructure, including the design and implementation of a core network, fibre connectivity and deployment of Aggregation Gateway (AG) boxes for government sensor communications.
  • Secure wireless network to enhance communication capabilities for government agencies with limited coverage for government sensor communications .
  • The deployment of common sensors across Singapore to improve sensing capabilities for enhanced data-driven planning and citizen service response.
  • The development of a smart nation operating system to provide data-processing, analytics and sharing capabilities to bolster cross-agency integration.

The Sentosa project

As a start, it will begin with Sentosa where the IDA will work with the Sentosa Development Corporation to innovate and develop new technology to address challenges in the tourism and hospitality sector, for prototypes.

Examples of challenges it looks to tackle there include management of peak hour traffic, transport and fleet management and energy and waste management.

 

 

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