Towards Smart Nation Singapore – Developments in 2017 (Part 3 of 3)

Towards Smart Nation Singapore – Developments in 2017 (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third instalment of our overview of initiatives
towards Smart Nation Singapore from 2017.

(Part 1
and Part 2)

Land Transport

The Land Transport
Authority (LTA)
is a statutory board under the Ministry of Transport, which spearheads land
transport developments in Singapore. It is the agency responsible for planning,
designing, building and maintaining Singapore’s land transport infrastructure
and systems.

Smart Urban Mobility solutions constitute one of the
Strategic Smart Nation Projects. The Ministry of Transport (MOT) and LTA announced
in November that autonomous scheduled buses and autonomous on-demand shuttles
will serve commuters in Punggol, Tengah and the Jurong Innovation District
(JID) in Singapore from 2022.

MOT and LTA also launched a Request for Information (RFI) to
seek inputs from the industry and research institutions on the key requirements
and enablers needed for the successful pilot deployment of AVs.

Singapore's first autonomous vehicle (AV) test centre
was opened
at JID, Singapore’s largest living lab. The CETRAN AV Test Centre has
been jointly developed by LTA, Nanyang Technological University
(NTU) and JTC Corporation. ST Kinetics and NTU ERI@N have
 to commence their autonomous bus trials at the CETRAN AV Test
Centre next year.

Above photo: Autonomous shuttle at the new CETRAN AV Test Centre/ Credit: LTA (from LTA’s Facebook page)

In August, LTA announced that Singapore aims
to achieve fully cashless public transport system
by 2020. LTA and TransitLink are expanding
cashless payment options for stored-value card transactions. Since January this
year, the option of topping up stored-value cards using personal bank cards, as
well as mobile payment platforms like Apple Pay and Android Pay, has been added
to all General Ticketing Machines (GTMs) at all train stations. 

Since March 2017, LTA has been piloting Account-Based
Ticketing (ABT) in collaboration with Mastercard. Commuters holding
Singapore-issued Mastercard contactless credit or debit cards will enjoy the
convenience of a “tap and go” fare payment experience by simply tapping their
Mastercard contactless credit or debit card on the bus or MRT fare

In October LTA revealed
plans to extend this ABT pilot
with Mastercard beyond the original duration
of six months. Visa and NETS will also come on board the ABT pilot from June
2018. Details are expected to be announced in due course.

Monetary Authority of

The Monetary Authority
of Singapore (MAS)
is Singapore’s central bank and financial regulatory authority.

Speaking at the Singapore FinTech Festival in November, Mr.
Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS, outlined
six strategies
Singapore is following to foster a thriving FinTech hub.

He said that the Singapore FinTech Journey 2.0 is about building
a diverse ecosystem where established financial institutions and FinTech
start-ups compete as well as collaborate, open architecture (encouraging
financial institutions to develop and share their APIs openly), forging
international links, developing a strong pipeline of talent and research
capabilities, regulations which promote FinTech innovation, while ensuring that
the system remains stable, and last but not least, cybersecurity.

These priorities were also captured in the
industry transformation map (ITM) for financial services
released in
October. It takes into consideration the technological disruption in the
production, delivery and consumption of financial services and aims to achieve
growth in financial sector real value-added of 4.3% and productivity of 2.4%
annually. The ITM also aims to create 3,000 net jobs in financial services, and
an additional 1,000 net jobs in the FinTech sector annually.

In terms of driving innovation, the industry consortium led
by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in
Singapore (ABS) completed
phase 2 of Project Ubin during 2017,
developing three software prototypes on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT
or blockchain) platforms, which are amongst the first in the world to implement
decentralised netting of payments in a manner that preserves transactional

A high-level view of Project Ubin’s architecture between different banking systems and users. The blockchain based system is linked to the conventional  payment system. Fund transfers in the MEPS+ become value transfers in the Ethereum blockchain. (Source: The future is here Project Ubin: SGD on Distributed Ledger, page 18)

In November, the source-codes for the prototypes was released
for public access under Apache License Version 2.0. Central banks, financial
institutions, as well as academic and research institutions can now tap on the
open source-codes to facilitate their experiments, research and innovation.

The first startup graduated
out of MAS’ FinTech Regulatory Sandbox in 2017. Thirty applications have been

In line with the e-payments strategic smart nation project, MAS has also worked with the industry to lay
the infrastructure that will support an interoperable e-payment system.  FAST was
launched in 2014, followed by PayNow
in July this year
.  FAST is Singapore’s 24×7 real-time inter-bank
retail payment system. PayNow is built upon FAST. It links bank accounts to
mobile phone numbers or personal ID numbers, and enables people to make
inter-bank transfers into and out of their bank accounts using just the mobile
phone number or personal ID number.

An industry taskforce was formed,
co-led by MAS and IMDA to develop a common QR code for Singapore (“SGQR”). The Payments endorsed the
specification for SGQR in November, which can accept electronic payments by
both domestic and international payment schemes, e-wallets, and banks.

The Payments Council itself was formed in August this year with 20 leaders
from banks, payment service providers, businesses, and trade associations to
encourage collaboration within the payments industry and promote
interoperability among e-payments solutions.

MAS continued to
enter into FinTech Co-operation agreements with financial regulators in other
jurisdictions, reaching a total
of sixteen
agreements by the end
of 2017. As part of the agreement with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority
(HKMA), MAS and HKMA have committed to work on a strategic project on trade
finance cross-border infrastructure, based on distributed ledger technology, as
their first collaborative initiative. 

MAS is working
with local and
foreign banks to explore a Banking KYC Shared-Services Utility that will
streamline end-to-end KYC,  improving the quality of risk management while
reducing cost and time taken. This will play an important role in anti-money
laundering / countering the financing of terrorism (AML/ CFT) efforts.

On the cybersecurity front, in October, MAS announced
the establishment of a Cyber Security Advisory Panel (CSAP), comprising cyber
security thought leaders from around the world. MAS also appointed
its first Chief Cyber Security Officer in October. MAS is also partnering with
the Association of Banks in Singapore to review its Technology Risk Management
Guidelines and to establish guidelines for “red-teaming’ (a covert penetration
test conducted on a financial institution’s live environment). FS-ISAC (Financial
Services Information Sharing and Analysis Centre), a global intelligence
gathering and sharing initiative for the financial sector with over 7000
members worldwide, has launched its regional centre in Singapore.

Ministry of Home
Affairs (MHA)

MHA is leveraging
Science & Technology
to keep Singapore safe and deal with threats
effectively by developing better detection and situational
awareness, improved analytical ability and stronger operational

For instance, an Automated Biometric and Behavioural
Screening Suite (ABBSS) has been deployed at Woodlands Checkpoint, a land
border crossing between Singapore and Malaysia. ABBSS encompasses a
state-of-the-art video analytics system, which can perform real-time facial
recognition, cross-referencing that against a large database. It can search
recorded footages based on multiple parameters such as colour, size, shape,
number plate, speed and direction of a moving object.

This is a network of labs across Singapore’s checkpoints
which play a critical role in dealing with drugs and terrorism. These labs
provide the capability to quickly and accurately detect an entire spectrum of
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) threats, and
conduct speedy accurate investigations based on advanced forensic

MHA is also utilising technology such as virtual reality and
learning-on-the-go through smart phones and tablets for enhanced training of
the Home Team (The seven Departments and two Statutory Boards under the
Ministry of Home Affairs are collectively called the Home Team).

National Environment

The National
Environment Agency (NEA)
is the leading public organisation responsible for improving and sustaining a
clean and green environment in Singapore.

The Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map (ES
ITM) was launched
in December, unveiling the strategies and initiatives to ensure a vibrant,
sustainable and professional industry that will provide services and solutions
to help achieve a Zero Waste vision and a clean and liveable Singapore.

NEA will be engaging with its partners to identify key
challenges and capability development opportunities in preparation for
subsequent grant calls for technology solutions. To encourage greater use of
technology and automation to increase the overall productivity, funding
 that facilitate the development and deployment of innovative
and smart technologies are available.

NEA has also been organising regular thematic and broad-based
technology connect sessions, and it will continue to engage the industry to
prototype, pilot and profile environmental services solutions through the INCUBATE
(INnovating and CUrating Better Automation and Technologies for
Environmental Services).

NEA has developed a
S$10.8 million Environmental Robotics Programme
, with support from the
National Robotics R&D Programme. The agency is also going to start a new
Closing the Waste Loop (CTWL) research funding initiative to boost Singapore’s
R&D capabilities in developing solutions to extract value and resources
from key waste and residue streams including plastics, food, electrical and
electronic products, and incineration ash.

National Research Foundation

The National Research Foundation (NRF) is a department within the Prime Minister's Office and it  sets the national direction for research and development (R&D) by developing policies, plans and strategies for research, innovation and enterprise. It also funds strategic initiatives and builds up R&D capabilities by nurturing research talent. 

The RIE (Research, Innovation and Enterprise) 2020 plan was launched last year, with the government planning to invest SG$19 billion over 5 years. In September this year, the progress was reviewed and announcements made regarding the future in the four technology domains of the Plan- Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering (AME), Health & Biomedical Sciences (HBMS), Services & Digital Economy (SDE) and Urban Solutions & Sustainability (USS).

The government seeks to drive innovation, knowledge transfer and adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies, such as the industrial internet of things, robotics/automation and additive manufacturing, through public-private partnership platforms. Comprising Tech Labs (or Model Factories), Tech Access and Tech Depot, these platforms will allow companies to co-develop, experience, and deploy advanced manufacturing technologies while minimising potential disruptions to their operations.

In the HBMS area, the focus is on diabetes, which affects 400,000 Singapore residents and could affect one in three Singaporeans over their lifetimes. The strategies include use of digital tools, such as HealthHub and Diabetes Pal and creation of a consolidated National Diabetes Database (NDD).

In the USS domain, the Singapore government has embarked on efforts to begin Research & Development (R&D) on Grid 2.0. Grid 2.0 refers to the next-generation grid system that will transform how energy is managed by consolidating gas, solar and thermal energy into a single intelligent network that is more efficient, sustainable and resilient. This builds on Singapore’s past investments in smart metersgrid storagesolar photovoltaics, as well as various energy efficiency and demand management solutions.

In May, NRF set up up a Singapore Data Science Consortium (SDSC), in collaboration with the National University Singapore (NUS), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the Singapore Management University (SMU) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

NRF has also launched a national programme in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to develop Singapore’s AI capabilities. Called AI.SG, this initiative is driven by a government-wide partnership comprising NRF, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), EDB, IMDA, SGInnovate, and the Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS). NRF will invest up to $150 million over five years in AI.SG.

Singapore/ Workforce Singapore

SkillsFuture Singapore
is a statutory board under the Ministry of Education (MOE), which aims to
facilitate continuous education and training, upgrading skills to keep up with
the fast pace of technological advancements and increasing competition..

Workforce Singapore (WSG)
is a statutory board under the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), which oversees the
transformation of the local workforce and industry to meet ongoing economic

Both these agencies run multiple initiatives
to equip Singaporeans with the right sets of skills to participate in the economy
of the future and at the same time, building a strong talent pipeline to meet
Singapore’s needs, as it strives to benefit from the technological revolution. The
ITM launches are usually accompanied by training and education programmes from
SSG and WSG.

For instance, WSG runs Professional Conversion Programmes
(PCPs), which are career conversion programmes targeted at
Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs), including
mid-career switchers, to undergo skills conversion and move into new
occupations or sectors that have good prospects and opportunities for

In October, SSG  launched a
new SkillsFuture Series of training programmes in eight priority and emerging
skills areas: Data analytics, finance, tech-enabled services, digital media,
cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, advanced manufacturing and urban solutions.

SSG is also working
with the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and employers to launch
seven new Earn and Learn Programmes
 (ELPs) to meet new manpower needs
especially in emerging sectors.

Above image: Screenshot from portal

The MySkillsFuture portal (
was launched
a short while ago, as a one-stop portal for all Singaporeans, offering
resources for students in schools, tertiary students and people in the workforce,
to make informed learning and career plans. Each individual will have a
personalised account for their learning and career plans, which can follow them
through life. 

Personal Data
Protection Commission

The Personal Data
Protection Commission (PDPC),
under the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) is responsible for
administering and enforcing the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (PDPA).

Data lies at the heart of the ICT-enabled revolution which
is affecting all aspects of society and individual lives. Having a trusted and
progressive personal data protection framework is integral to Singapore’s
digital economy and Smart Nation plans.

PDPC embarked
on a series of new initiatives
in July, including a public consultation on
PDPC’s review of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) and publication of a
new Guide to help organisations adopt best practices when sharing data.

Plans to introduce a Data Protection Trustmark certification
scheme by end 2018 and Singapore’s Notice of Intent to participate in the APEC
Cross-Border Privacy Rules System and the APEC Privacy Recognition for
Processors System (APEC CBPR and PRP) were also announced.

Yeong Zee Kin, Deputy Commissioner of PDPC
, said
in a speech 
on September 29, is in the process of finalising
guides to assist companies to put in place Data Protection Management
Programmes and to help businesses conduct Data Protection Impact Assessments.

PDPC also plans to launch a Data Protection Trust Mark
certification scheme by the end of 2018.


SGInnovate was
launched in November 2016 as a private limited company wholly owned by the
Singapore Government, to support and develop the deep tech startup ecosystem in

By the end of 2017, SGInnovate will have completed equity
investments in 15 deep tech startups, played a part in generating 400
potential-customer leads for early-stage companies and built a network of more
than 1,000 technical individuals interested in joining early-stage tech

SGInnovate announced its ‘Deep
Tech Nexus’ Strategy
in December as a direct result of experiences and
insights gained in its first year of operation. The Deep Tech Nexus represents
SGInnovate’s commitment to add tangible value to the Singapore deep tech
startup ecosystem in two key areas – Human Capital and Investment Capital.
Three technology areas have been selected for focus during 2018: Artificial
Intelligence, Blockchain and MedTech.

Above photo (From left to right): Yeo Hwee Lee, Director, Software & Solution Services, IBM Software Group, IBM Asia Pacific; Wendy Wong, Senior VP, Corporate Governance & Communications Office, GIC; Sam Witteveen, Founder, Red Dragon AI; Steve Leonard, Founding CEO, SGInnovate; Yap Jia Qing, Founder,; Aziza Sheerin, Regional Director, General Assembly (GA); Scott Jones, MD, Six Kins; Tan Tin Wee, CEO, NSCC/ Credit: SGInnovate

On December 14, SGInnovate announced
that it has appointed 17 co-investors
under the Startup SG Equity scheme.
The co-investors would collectively be identifying and co-investing with
SGInnovate in early-stage deep tech startups in areas prioritised in Singapore’s
Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan or RIE2020, such as Artificial
Intelligence and Blockchain.

Singapore Land

The Singapore Land
Authority (SLA)
is a statutory board under the Ministry of Law, which optimises Singapore’s
limited land resources for economic and social development.

SLA launched
a mobile version of OneMap, an
integrated map system, launched on the desktop seven
years ago in 2010. New features in this app include Map Styles, Driving and
Journey Planner and BusRouteExplorer among others.

OneMap is an integrated map system for government agencies
to deliver location-based services and information, such as community services
(child care, community clubs, eldercare, disability services etc.), education,
environment, safety and security, government institutions (fire stations,
libraries, police force establishments etc.), attractions, sports and

Though commercial map applications are available, OneMap
provides an extraordinarily high level of detail unavailable on any other
platform, tailored to meet the local requirements of residents or visitors in Singapore.

Part 1 - Agency for Science, Technology and Research; Building and Construction Authority; Economic Development Board; Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Changi Airport Group; Cyber Security Agency

Part 2 - Government Technology Agency; Housing & Development Board; Integrated Health Information Systems; Infocomm Media Development Authority; Intellectual Property Office of Singapore; International Enterprise Singapore