Singapore’s Jurong island smart test bed!
The upcoming Jurong Lake District is set to become the most futuristic part of Singapore in the years to come, as the Government has designated the district as a test bed for Smart Nation projects. The district is where more than 20 companies, including some tech giants, are testing out their innovations on a greater scale than ever before in Singapore.
One of the companies involved is local energy startup Green Koncepts. It has an energy management system in place which helps to optimise energy usage in the area. It has also deployed sensors that can gather information such as lighting and human traffic conditions. The information can be shared and exchanged with other parties, who can use it to develop new applications.
The founder and CEO of Green Koncepts, Mr Kenneth Lee, elaborated: “What we do is we provide them with the tools that allow them to drive sustainability in buildings and in cities, and allow different types of people to actually access this information.
“For example, to the end-consumers themselves, they are able to see how much energy they have consumed, where this energy is used, how they are using it, and more importantly, to compare and benchmark themselves against their peers.”
A large amount of such information, known as Big Data, is continuously generated each day. Apart from data gathered by various sensors, it also comes from the content users search for and upload online. In the Smart Nation vision, this data can be pooled and used for other purposes.
For example, the same data for energy management can be used by security agencies. They can use information on lighting and human traffic conditions to schedule patrols. The same is happening in Little India and Geylang, where there are plans to place sensors which would help the authorities monitor these hotspots.
The same data can also be used by urban planners. An example of this is the S$73 million Virtual Singapore project – a three-dimensional city modelling platform that incorporates such data, as well as detailed information about Singapore’s physical landscape and structures.
Mr Eric Goh, managing director (Singapore) of EMC Computer Systems (South Asia), said: “You look at traffic management, you look at crowd control and you look at incident management. All of those things need information from different sources, from sensors, from video, from all of the information management and databases.
“It comes into a data lake and we can then bring analytics itself into a particular data lake, and give you real-time information to make decisions accordingly.”
But analysing Big Data requires a different skillset to what is currently being taught. Thus, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is developing local capability in Big Data analytics. Local institutions like Temasek Polytechnic are also offering training in this field.
Heading into 2015, IDA said that all the elements required for a Smart Nation are already present in our society.
Mr Steve Leonard, executive deputy chairman of IDA, said: “Smart Nation means everybody is involved, either benefiting from or contributing to, ideally both. That is how we need to have all citizens, all students and all startups thinking so that we are always improving.”
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Office, said: “The key word is integration. We need to integrate the way we collect data, the way we analyse data. We need to integrate our plans, we need to integrate our responses. We have to work as a whole of Government, and in fact, as a whole nation.
“Because it is not just what the Government does, but how the private sector takes advantage of the opportunities that are there. It is how people are empowered to make use of all the new digital tools that will be available. It is how society communicates and collaborates and bonds and builds ties.”
Dr Balakrishnan has been tasked with spearheading the Smart Nation project, and he said how it improves the daily lives of Singaporeans will be a gauge of its success.