- The Smart Nation initiative is about harnessing the full power and potential of digital and smart technologies to create new jobs and business opportunities, in order to make our lives more convenient, and our economy more productive, through more efficient Government and business processes. But beyond that, a Smart Nation is about creating new opportunities in a digital age, and transforming the way people live, work and play, so that Singapore remains an outstanding global city.
Why the push for a Smart Nation?
- At the fundamental level, Smart Nation is about making daily transactions easy and seamless, be it making a payment, applying for a permit, etc. The technology that enables this smooth process should be invisible, and the design should be intuitive, so that the solution is not just convenient, but a delight to use. At a broader level, Smart Nation is about achieving efficiencies and effectiveness, be it leveraging sensors and data to better manage traffic or monitor security threats. Cost savings brought about by digitisation is also key to growing businesses. Citizens can use technology to improve quality of life, be it through monitoring health, reducing time spent on administrative tasks, or planning commutes, etc. But most importantly, Smart Nation is about transforming Singapore’s economy, and ensuring that there will be jobs and opportunities in the future.
- As an open economy, Singapore is impacted by global forces – geopolitical tensions, potential threat of anti-globalisation, and technology disruptions across many industries. Internally, there are challenges such as an aging population. But Singapore has strengths and achievements that place the country in a good position to succeed in Smart Nation:
- Being small, compact, and having a digitally literate population;
- Good infrastructure, with high speed connectivity, and high smart phone penetration;
- Achieving successful computerisation and digital transformation in agencies such as the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), and National Library Board (NLB);
- A pool of talent who perform well in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) disciplines, and greater demand and higher wages for infocomm-technology professionals and engineers;
- A vibrant and global innovation ecosystem with an expanding number of local and international start-ups; and
- An open data network with private sector leveraging on Government data through data.gov.sg to drive new services, and public-private collaborations such as GrabShuttle which leveraged on the Beeline platform.
- As part of the Smart Nation journey, the Government has also been actively using digital technology to better serve the public. For example, the recently announced Singapore Student Learning Space (SLS) for various primary and secondary schools is an initiative that empowers students towards self-directed learning. And soon, motorists will be able to pay for parking charges at public car parks via a mobile app, in place of paper coupons.
Strategic National Projects
- However, there is a real danger that Singapore could fall behind in emerging areas, such as e-payments and digital identity systems. Singapore needs to do more, and with a renewed sense of urgency. The Government is therefore taking a more integrated approach to lay the foundation infrastructure, and drive pervasive adoption of digital and smart technologies throughout the economy and society. In the immediate months, the Government will focus on the following strategic national projects:
- National Digital Identity framework, for citizens and businesses to transact digitally in a convenient and secure manner;
- e-Payments drive, to allow everyone to make simple, swift, seamless, and safe payments;
- Smart Nation Sensor Platform, to accelerate the deployment of sensors and other IOT (Internet of Things) devices that will make our city more liveable and secure;
- Smart Urban Mobility, to leverage data and digital technologies, including artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles, to further enhance the public transport commute;
- Moments of Life, which bundles relevant government services, across different agencies, to the citizen at key moments of his life. This reduces the need for citizens to transact with multiple government agencies, for a more seamless and convenient experience.
- To achieve the above outcomes, the Government will actively engage citizens and businesses, respond to their feedback and needs, and create space for innovation and co-creation. The Government is also in the process of crystallising the next phase of similarly impactful projects to advance Smart Nation, and will seek views and perspectives from different sources.