Scaling up technology to take S'pore global

Scaling up technology to take S'pore global
Primary school pupils watching a dancing robot. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore will use technologies pioneered in other cities, but on an unprecedented, national scale, in its smart nation push.

SINGAPORE'S smart nation vision will use technologies pioneered in other cities - but on an unprecedented, national scale.

This will make the country an "ideal test site" to push forward those technologies and become a global player, just as it did with water purification, said Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the smart nation programme.

He told Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), who sought an update on the smart nation initiative, that technologies like driverless cars were already in place in cities like San Francisco.

"But we can be the first nation where, because we are a single level of Government, because we can digitise literally every square metre of Singapore, because we can make every lamp-post an active, smart geo-tag pillar - we can do things on a scale... which is not so easily duplicated elsewhere."

Singapore will not become Silicon Valley, where ideas for new technologies spring up continually, "but we will be the ideal test site, a site to test your prototypes (and get) proof of concept".

"It's like what we did with water. We didn't invent reverse osmosis, but we upscaled it, we nationalised it and today Singaporean water companies have opportunities all over the world."

He urged Singaporeans to not just be consumers of technology, but creators: "We don't want our students to be addicted to games, we want our students to create those games that other people become addicted to."

The smart nation programme's priority is to create more opportunities and prepare Singaporeans for changes, he said.

Singaporeans "cannot be Luddites rejecting technology advances". "We have to embrace it, we have to be at the forefront of this change," he said.


This article was first published on March 11, 2015.
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