BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Singapore has set its sights on becoming the world's Smart Nation. As the world's population increases, technology is continuously being leveraged on to improve efficiency, eco-friendliness and the productivity of people living in cities and nations around the world.
In a sit-down session with ASEAN media, Business Reporter Koo Jin Shen managed to speak with Jacqueline Poh, managing director of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, the agency spearheading Singapore's Smart Nation Initiative to try and find out more about the city-state's efforts.
Below are some excerpts, edited for clarity.
What exactly is the difference between a smart city and a smart nation?
I think because Singapore is a City State, we could either have been a Smart City or a Smart Nation. But there is an advantage in being a nation and doing some of these innovations with technology, on a national level.
For example, one thing a smart nation needs is Spectrum (Radio frequencies).
A smart nation needs connectivity, it needs devices to be able to talk to each other whether they are sensors or your phone or other sort of internet devices.
In many places, that depends on how much spectrum you are given, and this is only given by the national authority.
Other things that are only done at the country level and not at the city level is healthcare. In Singapore, we have a national electronic health record system which has every citizen's records in it.
This is especially comprehensive for hospital level care, so your doctors can have all the information to be able to treat you correctly.
With this healthcare system, we are able to use technology and analyse it (the data) to really make a difference in population health and the individual health.
Things like 'smart lamp post', 'smart dustbins', or how to run traffic lights efficiently, I think it doesn't make so much of a difference whether you are a smart nation or a smart city since any city can use the same instrumentation.
However, one other difference is that citizens are treated as citizens of a smart nation, not just a city. We cannot assume they grow old and then leave, like in many countries where people from the cities move back to the village and retire, where it is cheaper and nicer.