Singapore’s city scape has only just begun

“We are not done building Singapore yet,” said Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at this year’s National Day Message. Kampung Admiralty was the main feature for the 2018 National Day Message broadcast. Touted as a comprehensive living solution, the housing estate promotes quality family and community life. In this estate, key public services such as education and healthcare are interwoven to revive the heartlands.

Despite the overwhelming support from the public for Kampung Admiralty, the Prime Minister insisted that Singapore’s built environment is not complete. Infrastructural perfection will continue over the next fifty years. Bold and creative planning are instrumental in remaking the heartlands and rejuvenating communities.

Building A Smart City

What place does technology have in Singapore’s urban design? Or rather, how exactly can Singapore reimagine its 719.9 km2 of land with the help of technology?

This year, the Centre for Liveable Cities Singapore published a book titled “Technology and the City: Foundation for a Smart Nation”. Filled with attractive visuals, exclusive anecdotes, and in-depth analysis, the book is a useful handbook for governments and policymakers.

The nifty book outlines Singapore’s journey to become the world’s first Smart Nation. The Smart Nation initiative seeks to transform the nation through technology. Of the five Strategic National Projects, two are aimed at improving urban life.

Get Smart

Spanning across five chapters, these are salient points the book makes:

Foremost, any grand scheme needs a detailed long-term plan. Peppered throughout the book are evidence of how the government has made necessary preparation for the Smart Nation vision to bloom. Motivated by the need to buoy the Singapore economy, the political leadership has positioned Information and Communications Technology (ICT) at the heart of Singapore’s development story.

Battered by the aftermath of economic recession, the Singapore government needed a solution to weatherproof the economy. IT was identified as a key enabler to transition the economy into a resilient one. Since 1980, the government has rolled out ICT plans to enhance Singapore’s competitiveness. Upon the launch of ICT led masterplans, the public sector followed suit. New policies, frameworks, institutions and initiatives were budding across different government agencies. Coordinated and thorough efforts were critical in nurturing fertile grounds for a Smart Nation.

This leads nicely to the second point: developing human capital – Singapore’s greatest resource. Part of the coordinated efforts conducted by the government were extensive IT training programs for civil servants and citizens. Complementary software and hardware were also made readily available. Moreover, rigorous public campaigns were launched to assimilate citizens into the Smart Nation agenda.

Armed with an IT savvy population, the government was able to launch digital initiatives for the urban environment. Driven by data, urban planning was revolutionised. Using the Geographic Information System (GIS), the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore digitised the island’s topography. Thanks to data tools, manual labour was spared. Saved efforts were redirected toward planning a more vibrant and inclusive society. Sparse land was reallocated for persons with disabilities and improving the location of essential public services such as schools and hospitals. Transport systems and public housing receive a face lift by capitalising on an era of big data.

As new technology emerges in the market, the government continues to reimagine possibilities to keep the landscape modern and purposeful.

All in all, tech driven urban planning in Singapore has gone from strength to strength. Despite the opportunities available, the book cautions that tech in and of itself is insufficient to make a city liveable. Instead, technologies should be applied in “an appropriate, systematic and coordinated way to meet the needs of the society and improve the lives of citizens”. This is the main thrust of Singapore’s Smart Nation success story: public policy which champions citizen centrism and a forward-thinking government.

Read more about the Smart Nation developments and initiatives on the OpenGov website.

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