We have all heard of smart cities. It is a concept referring to a city that creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life by excelling in several of eight areas; healthcare, buildings, mobility, infrastructure, technology, energy, people and governance. On the right is a model from Frost & Sullivan for the dimensions that are included in the concept.
Excellence in these key areas can be achieved through strong human capital, social capital, and/or ICT infrastructure.
In practise, a smart city is more an ideal than a reality and in everyday use, the concept is used as an inclusive terms for ideas like ‘digital city’ or ‘connected cities’ and it often refers to applied technologies like smart grids, smart meters, and other infrastructure for electricity, water supply and waste.
Recently Singapore, being a city-state, presented a vision of building a Smart Nation that functions beyond the capabilities of a smart city. A key component in this vision is the new Smart Nation Platform (SNP), which is built around three focus areas:
The aim is to further Singapore’s capabilities in big data connectivity by building new infrastructure and common technical architecture to support a smart nation ecosystem. It also includes plans for a nation operating system that allows all public agencies to connect and pool data to anticipate public needs. This may lead to thoughts of intrusion in privacy and control but the ambition is that essential sensor data will be anonymised and secured before it is managed and shared.
The video below from Singapore´s Infocomm Development Authority presents the building blocks that Singapore is putting in place to turn the vision into reality.
The Smart Nation concept can be seen as a holistic perspective on combining Government policy, businesses, people and disruptive technologies in a concerted effort, i.e. the concept of a smart, sustainable city, but extrapolated to a national level. A Smart Nation strategy seeks to harness advanced technologies to tackle the key challenges facing modern nation-states.
One key innovation will be the pooling of smart infrastructure and data among different government agencies, which can lead to more efficiency and cost savings. To harness living quality data, 1,000 sensors will be deployed to monitor air, water quality and public safety.
Part of the soft infrastructure in a Smart Nation also includes technical standards. IDA’s Internet of Things @ Home initiative will be looking to identify open standards which seek to enable seamless interoperability between connected smart devices as they are applied in a home setting.
This will raise the potential of home devices in providing stronger benefits and enhanced user experience to home dwellers. Microsoft and Apple has already developed standards for smart homes and it remains to be seen if there is place for yet another new initiative, when the technology leaders have already launched their versions.