Acknowledging that data analytics is indispensable to the success or failure of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, the country’s government is planning to roll-out a data sandbox this year to facilitate experimentation and innovation.
The initiative was discussed and elaborated upon in a speech by IMDA Assistant CEO Khoong Hock Yun at WBA Vision Forum: Asia in Singapore today.
“We [are trying] to align the data sets so there are more opportunities for data to be discovered. And then allow interested, qualified, parties to come on board to solve new challenges,” he said.
Cloud computing is going to be a crucial part of this initiative, and along with that the development of cloud security protocol.
“Cloud is the natural means for us to share limited resources to achieve results,” said Khoong.
Khoong said one of the biggest challenges in a disruptive world is the technology usually crosses various domains. This was exemplified by the merger of the Infocomm Development Authority and the Media Development Authority last year to form the Info-communications and Media Development Authority because the line between the media and infocomm sectors began to blur.
To combat this challenge, Khoong said different regulatories need to work together — and that ‘sandbox’ initiatives could become the norm.
“So putting together this matrix, we need to find what makes sense. If it goes across domains, then different regulatories need to come together,” he said.
Last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore set up a regulatory sandbox to allow for more experimentation within the fintech sector. The idea is that if startups worry less about stepping on regulatory toes, they can get off the ground and begin to focus on compliance later — when they are more stable or have generated a revenue stream.
If a good idea gets hamstrung by regulations from day one, the company might just run out of money before it can grow into anything useful.
The data sandbox wants to find new ways in which data can be resourced, which the government can then use to create smarter policies.
Khoong also went over other initiatives for Singapore’s Smart Nation — and because the WBA Vision Forum: Asia was a gathering of telco business people, connectivity was a big theme.
One of the more interesting projects is the pursuit of intra-nation connectivity.
In collaboration with three US cities, the government is testing a programme to allow Singaporeans connect to free Wi-Fi while travelling abroad.
For the pilot programme, Singaporeans visiting New York City, San Francisco and San Jose, California will be able to connect to free public wifi and Americans visiting Singapore should have access to Wireless@SG infrastructure.
“[Intra-nation connectivity] is technically possible, to figure out how to do this in the long-term is something we are working to figure out,” said Khoong.
A major theme in the Smart Nation development is the development of hyper-connected buildings. Real estate is one of the most important contributors to the Singaporean economy, so it makes sense that any Smart Nation policy would focus its efforts on buildings.
Part of a hyper-connected building is security and Singapore is working on face indexing technology to help with future investigations. It also is building camera-tampering warning, and license plate recognition software.
Related to hyper-connected buildings — but not to security — the government is working on creating a system of signals to alert when queues become too long and help manage car park efficiency.
To conclude the speech, Khoong called on Singapore as a whole to work together to achieve a Smart Nation.
“We need people from startups, risk capital, corporates, government, universities and of course citizens, to come together to work on Smart Nation”.
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