When I applied for a flat in Punggol and told my friends about it about two years ago, they asked me incredulously, "Are you sure? There's nothing there at all! It's so far away from everything."
Well, Punggol is now an upcoming housing hub and soon, it will also be something like Singapore's "mini Silicon Valley".
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Sunday (21 Jan) launched the masterplan for the 50 hectares Punggol Digital District.
It is a collaboration among the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), JTC, and the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).
The Digital District is located in Punggol North, where last year, was designated by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong as the "enterprise district" that will be a combination of housing, business, and education facilities.
In the announcement yesterday, DPM Teo said the first buildings of the district will be ready in five years' time, and "will also serve as a test bed for a slew of new features and planning practices".
"A Hub For Key Growth Sectors Of The Digital Economy"
The Punggol Digital District will become the heart of digital and cyber-security industries and is set to create 28,000 new jobs in tech and Information Technology (IT).
DPM Teo said the government is also looking at the possibility of moving relevant agencies to the district, like the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore.
He said in a Channel NewsAsia (CNA) report, "This will help seed a new cluster of cybersecurity and technology firms in Punggol. Our residents can look forward to many exciting jobs close to home and gain new skills in these growth areas."
According to The Straits Times article, SIT's new campus located in the district "would create opportunities for students and faculty to exchange ideas with industry practitioners working there".
JTC's Assistant CEO David Tan agreed, he told CNA that this "exchange of spaces" will "foster open innovation and the sharing of ideas".
He explained that even though "SIT's land is zoned for education, [and] JTC's business park is zoned as a business park", both institutions can use each other's facilities for their own purposes.
Business parks will begin construction this year and will be home to multinational corporations (MNCs), small, medium enterprises (SMEs), startups, and companies that are driven by technology and have "technology elements at the heart of its service".
And SIT can be a "living lab" for such companies, according to SIT President Professor Tan Thiam Soon.
He cited the university's partnership with grid operator, SP Group, as an example.
A micro-grid will be built in its campus, with any excess energy produced going back to the main grid to "support the district 'in times of need'".
Prof Tan said that joint efforts don't have to be "all local companies" and that if foreign companies "need a place to test", SIT will welcome them.
"Use our students, use our professors, we will be the place for you to test this new technology," he added.
Futuristic Infrastructure Connecting Homes To Work To Life
The Punggol Digital District is surrounded by nearby HDB flats and estates; the nearest one is Northshore Edge, which will be completed in 2021.
Amenities such as a hawker centre, childcare centres, and a community club will be connected to nearby residential estates, according to CNA.
Located just west of Coney Island, residents and tenants of the district can escape to nature and explore the 13km-long heritage trail.
It is also just south of Punggol End, where there are already food and retail establishments present.
Travelling in and out of the district will also be seamless as it will be connected "by a host of new transport infrastructure" like the upcoming Punggol Coast MRT station.
The car-lite district has a large underground car park, so streets are safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and the burgeoning number of personal mobility devices riders.
Centralised systems that handle waste collection, cooling, and logistics are also in the plans. 'Smart' thermostats installed in the area can "detect changes outdoors and adjust the temperature indoors accordingly".
Perhaps the most interesting feature lies in the centralised logistics area, where all goods delivered to the district will be delivered to tenants with "automated guided vehicles or drones", according to Mr Tan.
Young children now will stand to benefit in the future too, once the SIT campus is ready and the Punggol Digital District is fully furbished, there will be so many opportunities for them.
As a future Punggol resident myself, I'm looking forward to living there already.
This article was first published on Vulcan Post