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Singapore has come out tops in a global smart city performance study, beating 19 other cities in harnessing technology to improve areas such as mobility, healthcare, public safety and productivity.
According to the Intel-sponsored study conducted by Juniper Research, Singapore topped all four areas, making it the best performing smart city globally, ahead of London, New York, San Francisco and Seoul.
The key to making smart cities tick is the use of internet of things (IoT) technologies such as connected sensors, meters and lights to collect and analyse data to improve public infrastructure and services.
For example, an IoT-enabled infrastructure of intelligent traffic systems, safer roads, directed parking, and frictionless toll and parking payments can give up to 60 hours back a year to drivers otherwise stuck in their cars.
Singapore, for one, has applied smart, connected traffic systems, in conjunction with strong policies to restrict car ownership in an effort to reduce the number of vehicles on its roads.
While this level of policy enforcement is not possible in San Francisco and London, Juniper Research noted that the two cities have applied their own traffic management technology alongside long-term visions to transform mobility through autonomous vehicles and shared mobility services.
As for healthcare, the study found that smart cities with connected health services can save citizens almost 10 hours a year, and bring potential lifesaving benefits for patients and caregivers. Both Singapore and Seoul stood out in this area through digital service platforms and remote monitoring devices that address the healthcare needs of the elderly.
“If one considers the fact that, on average, the number of annual visits to a physician increases substantially as one ages, it is clear that these strategies form a crucial part of ensuring that the overall healthcare system is not overburdened; in turn, improving overall healthcare outcomes,” Juniper Research said.
Singapore’s efforts in improving public safety were also singled out in the study, particularly for its use of surveillance cameras to deter and solve crimes since 2012. According to Singapore’s ministry of home affairs, video footage from police cameras had helped to solve over 2,300 cases by the end of 2017.
Read more about smart cities in ASEAN
- Alibaba Cloud has teamed up with Malaysia’s government to roll out an AI platform aimed at easing Kuala Lumpur’s notorious traffic congestion.
- Malaysia’s Cyberjaya township is piloting a slew of smart city projects, including e-payments and mobile bus ticketing.
- Thailand’s first IoT network has been tipped to offer location tracking, smart metering and smart street lighting services in Phuket and Bangkok.
- The Singapore government planned to spend over S$2bn in 2017 to develop a national sensor platform and digital identity system, among other initiatives to speed up the country’s digitisation efforts.
Juniper Research said Singapore’s smart nation initiative and its position as a city-state makes the country unique in its ability to execute its smart city vision. Singapore was lauded for its rapid transformation since independence into the world’s leading smart city and was held up as an example for other cities to learn from.
Noting that analysts tend to focus on the technical underpinnings of building a data-centric world, Windsor Holden, head of forecasting and consultancy at Juniper Research, said the importance of the “human benefits” of smart cities – which can potentially “give back” a remarkable 125 hours to every resident every year – cannot be overlooked.
“Connected communities, municipal services and processes have a powerful impact on a citizen’s quality of life,” he said.
Amid the progress that Singapore has made in its smart city initiatives, the city-state still lags behind major Chinese cities where e-payments are more widely used.
“In Singapore, we too have e-payments, but we have too many different schemes and systems that do not talk to one another,” said Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally in August 2017.
“So people have to carry multiple cards, and businesses have to install multiple readers. It is inconvenient for consumers, it is costly for businesses. And the result is, most of us still prefer cash and cheques – 6 in 10 transactions are cash and cheques.”
To encourage greater adoption of e-payments, the Monetary Authority of Singapore formed a Payments Council and taskforce in 2017 to develop a common QR code specification that can be used to facilitate e-payments in Singapore. The specification has since been supported by Singtel’s Dash e-wallet, and is expected to be adopted by local e-payment stalwart Nets at a later date.