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Singapore: the number one smart city

The city is moving closer to its smart-nation goal, thanks to an ambitious government

Paul Mah
Singapore-based tech journalist and blogger

In many ways, the city state of Singapore shouldn’t exist. It sits just one degree north of the equator, lacks its own basic resources, and is consistently hot and humid throughout the year. But it defied the odds, and has evolved into a modern, cosmopolitan city that is leading the race to become a global smart city.

Singapore’s success can be attributed to a government that has no need to grapple with state-level bureaucracy and has a track record of delivering on its initiatives. Along with Singapore’s high level of tech literacy and robust infrastructure, the city can focus its full energies towards making the smart- city dream a reality.

The first steps were arguably taken when Singapore implemented an island-wide, super-fast broadband network and free wi-fi for all. A nationwide network of street sensors was next, facilitating the launch of a usage-based road-pricing framework. This will soon be upgraded to a gantryless system with the position accuracy that will give real-time traffic information and automatic charging for streetside parking. At road crossings, the elderly and disabled can tap RFID cards against wait boxes to extend crossing times. Even the city’s water management system is one of the most advanced in the world – the government is testing new seawater desalination technology that uses only half the electricity required by current methods.

Selected Housing & Development Board estates are trialling the use of smart products in homes, such as smart lighting to conserve energy, sensors to monitor elderly residents in case they fall, and automated pneumatic waste collection for odour-free refuse collection. And, since last year, Singapore-based start-up nuTonomy has been testing self-driving cars with the approval of the authorities.

With clean streets, excellent safety, and the convenience and efficiency of a smart city, Singapore will continue to be a highly desirable place in which to live and work.