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Singapore is a small but wealthy city-state, occupying a strategically vital location at the southernmost tip of Peninsular Malaysia, where major sea lanes between east and west converge. Singapore’s historic role as an entrepôt and trans-shipment centre for the region has traditionally created opportunities across a broad spectrum of sectors. This globally-connected, multi-cultural and cosmopolitan city-state offers a conducive business environment, especially to creative and knowledge-driven businesses.
Singapore is a model of economic development becoming an advanced, modern economy ranking 3rd globally in terms of GDP per capita. From independence in 1965, it achieved almost uninterrupted growth averaging nearly 8% per annum for over three decades. By the 1990s, it had GDP per capita levels similar to many (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) OECD countries and was acknowledged widely as one of Asia’s ‘tigers’.
The contrast between Singapore and some of its regional neighbours is all the more striking given its size and lack of natural resources. Singapore is totally reliant on human capital and has a workforce of 3.4 million. Foreign companies and workers contribute about 50% to GDP.
Brief description of Singapore as a smart city
From transportation and public housing, to energy management and water treatment, Singapore has developed and adapted some of the world’s most advanced urban solutions. Backed by a progressive leadership and firm commitment to sustainable development, the city has managed to turn the challenges of urban development into rewarding economic opportunities. Some of those solutions have been replicated and implemented successfully in other cities. Even though Singapore can already be regarded as a ‘smart’ city, the government is actively exploring ways to make the city even smarter. Key elements in this approach are the integration of policies, the intelligent use of ICT, and the focus on ‘liveability’; i.e. czeating a city in which people are happy to live.
What are the knowledge and skills needs for Singapore as a smart city?
Singapore is a highly developed country which relies on good economic policies by the government, a highly skilled workforce, high productivity and cutting edge technology. Just like the Netherlands, its focus lies on innovation as an engine for growth. It therefore invests heavily in R&D. Singapore’s growth in the last few decades is based on attracting Foreign Direct Investment. The Economic Development Board, responsible for FDI, has incentive programmes to attract companies in specific sectors. The EDB is mainly interested in companies with high productivity, cutting edge technology and large investments in R&D. Singapore is also very interested in foreign architecture and design. Singapore is always on the lookout for talent. It has special programmes to attract talented students and scholars from the region and beyond.
Why and to what extent is the development of smart cities in Singapore promising for Dutch companies?
Singapore is a dynamic city which is constantly changing. The Singapore society is embracing innovative technological solutions, whether it is for personal use or to be applied on broader scale. New buildings are being build, the newest technologies are being applied and top rated universities educate the highly skilled workforce of the future. The country has a pro-business mentality, and offers business opportunities on many fronts. In the construction sector, there are opportunities for architects, designers, companies working in construction industry and companies specialized in green buildings and energy efficiency.
Implementation of ICT solutions in all sectors brings many opportunities. The Dutch water sector is renowned in Singapore and actively offers solutions for Singapore’s challenges in this field. The maritime sector offers opportunities in LNG, green shipping and port construction. Singapore is very interested in European design. In line with its desire to be a ’liveable’ city, new products should not only be functional, but also attractive.
In the health sector, there is interest in technological telehealth solutions and other medical devices, and for creative solutions to prevent development of chronically illnesses, e.g. serious gaming. In this small country without natural sources of energy, there is a need for new methods of energy collection and storage. Smart grids are test bedded and universities develop methods for energy storage.
The fact that Singapore likes to see itself as a “Living Laboratory” also offers opportunities. The city is open to test new concepts, develop and commercialize cutting-edge urban solutions, capitalizing on Singapore’s experience in systems level integration. It invites companies to partner government agencies, local companies and research institutes for a diversity of R&D activities, leveraging the excellent public infrastructure for test bedding activities.
Investment and development plans of the Singapore government.
The Singapore Government pursues a pro-business, pro-foreign investment, export-oriented economic policy framework. Overall economic policy has been laid out in the Economic Strategy Committee Report 2010. This report proposed a shift towards productivity-driven growth, which would require major new investments in skills, expertise and innovative capabilities of people and businesses. The strategy was summarized as “High-skilled People, Innovative Economy, Distinctive Global City”. www.mof.gov.sg
This approach filters through every aspect of government policy. For each sector, plans are being developed that have a long planning horizon. This leads to consistent and integrated city planning. Over the last decades, this has resulted in a city with excellent infrastructure, business climate and services. Efforts are underway to turn Singapore into an even smarter city. The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has set up a ‘smart city programme office’, to study the phenomenon and decide what needs to be done before Singapore can really call itself a smart city. Key elements will be a whole of government approach, integration of policies and intelligent and multi-purpose use of existing data. The team expects to finish its work over the next year.
Incentives in relation to the smart city
Smart city planning
One of the key features of Singapore is its intelligent and integrated city planning. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) develops land use plans that guide Singapore’s development for the next 40 to 50 years. The last Concept Plan dates from 2001 and is currently being reviewed. The concept plan is translated into a Master Plan which guides Singapore’s development in the medium term over the next 10 to 15 years. It is reviewed every five years and translates the broad long-term strategies of the Concept Plan into detailed plans to guide development. The Master Plan shows the permissible land use and density for every parcel of land in Singapore. www.ura.gov.sg
The Housing Development Board is responsible for the development of public housing projects. The organization aims to develop these projects in a sustainable manner. A good example is the Punggol Eco-Town (more information below). The HDB is also involved in the land reclamation projects of Singapore, for which the Netherlands offers its expertise.
Singapore emphasizes the need for a city not only to be business friendly, but also ‘an endearing place to live’. In 2008, an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development developed a “Sustainable Development Blueprint”, outlining that Singapore should be efficient, clean and green (preserving greenery).
The Committee also set up the Centre for Liveable Cities, which organizes events and training on the topic. The main event is the two-yearly World Cities Summit, which last took place in July 2012. www.clc.org.sg b.
Smart use of ICT
Developments in ICT and its application in key economic sectors play a major part in the development of Singapore as a smart city. The “iN2015” (“Intelligent Nation 2015”) is a 10-year masterplan on ICT, implemented by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). The aims are to develop an ultra-high speed and globally competitive infocomm infrastructure and the transformation of key economic sectors, government and society through more sophisticated and innovative use of infocomm. Projects for future development will focus on Cloud Computing, Business analytics and Green ICT.
The government applies ICT solutions to improve its services through the “egovernment” programme. The “eGov2015” programme guides public agencies in the implementation of new ICT programmes. Under this programme, the government has aligned all government web sites to offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ for the public. Mobile and social apps will also be introduced to enable citizens to receive mobile alerts and provide their feedback and suggestions.
Smart ways to save energy and protect the environment.
Since Singapore has no natural energy resources, it depends on imported fossil fuels to meet its energy demand. Its energy policy is therefore based on diversifying its energy sources and reducing the demand for energy. There are limited opportunities for alternative energy sources due to Singapore’s size and location. Possible sources that are being explored are waste-to-energy, bio fuels, solar energy and possibly nuclear energy. Singapore also focuses on the R&D of renewable energy options and presents itself as an R&D center and ‘living lab’ for new energy technologies in Asia. In March 2010, a bill was adopted aimed at reducing the energy intensity of the country by 35% in 2030 compared to 2005. The electricity consumption in buildings in Singapore can be attributed to the use of air conditioning (40-50 percent) and ventilation (20 percent). The government is working on comprehensive legislation for energy efficiency in buildings, such as giving energy labels.
As one of the programmes aimed at reducing energy consumption, a multi-agency Electric Vehicle Task force was set up to test-bed EVs and assess the benefits and feasibility of adopting EVs in Singapore. The test-bed seeks to test the feasibility of EVs in Singapore and to develop related industry and R&D opportunities. There are business opportunities for Dutch companies in transport telematics and mobility solutions in this field.
Singapore is very interested in smart grid technology. In 2011 one of the largest experimental test facilities for electricity networks in the world opened in Singapore: the Experimental Power Grid Centre (EPGC). Energy Market Authority www.ema.gov.sg
The National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) was set up to coordinate Singapore’s domestic and international policies on climate change. In June 2012, the Deputy Prime Minister launched the National Climate Change Strategy 2012. The NCCS-2012 describes the projections for carbon emissions up to the year 2020 and the plans to reduce emissions to meet Singapore’s target of 7% to 11%. It also outlines the direction post-2020 as studies are undertaken into how to stabilise Singapore’s long-term emissions.
Smart and green buildings
The plans and initiatives outlined above culminate in a series of efforts to make Singapore’s buildings greener and smarter. The Building Energy Efficiency Master Plan (BEEMP), contains programmes and measures that span the whole life cycle of a building. It begins with a set of energy efficiency standards to ensure buildings are designed right from the start and continues with a programme of energy management to ensure their operating efficiency is maintained throughout their life span. There are business opportunities for Dutch companies in energy efficient building systems, such as smart building management systems. The “Sustainable Singapore Blueprint” led to the Green Buildings Master Plan. It contains, inter alia, a Green Mark Incentive Scheme to encourage building owners to undertake improvements in energy efficiency. This system gives points on items such as energy efficiency, water efficiency and indoor environmental quality. Singapore set a target for 80% of existing build stock to achieve at least a Green Mark certified rating by 2030.
As the Building Construction Authority’s flagship R&D project under its Green Building Masterplan, an existing building at the BCA Academy was retrofitted into a Zero-Energy Building (ZEB). It houses green classrooms and offices, and also function as a test-bedding center for Green Building Technologies. www.bca.gov.sg e.
Smart solutions to water challenges
Being a small island with limited resources of fresh drinking water, Singapore has to be creative to fulfil its water needs. Throughout the country there are ‘catchment areas’, to optimise the use of rainwater. One of those, the Marina Barrage, was built with Dutch technology. One of the sources for drinking water is “NEWater”, reclaimed water produced from treated used water that is further purified using advanced membrane technologies and ultra-violet disinfection. Another technology-based water source is desalinated water. Singapore has one of Asia’s largest seawater reverse-osmosis plant. The second desalinated plant will be completed in 2013.
To tackle the issue of flooding after heavy rainfall, Singapore set up an ‘Expert Panel on Drainage Design and Flood Protection Measures’. In January 2012, it recommended that Singapore develop a more integrated approach to the flooding. The country should use dynamic models and monitoring systems. Other suggestions pertained to better ways to deal with the excess water, such as green roofs and porous asphalt. The national water agency, PUB, has set aside Eur 450 million over the next 5 years to implement the recommendations. www.mewr.gov.sg, www.pub.gov.sg.
Singapore needs a highly skilled workforce, so it does not come as a surprise that this small country has four universities. The latest addition, the Singapore University for Technology and Design, was built upon a design of Dutch architect Ben van Berkel.
The iN2015 plan contains a special “iN2015 Education and Learning plan”. The plan aims to improve its educational system through infocomm and to increase the attractiveness of Singapore’s educational institutions for global talent.
One of the flagship programmes, EdVantage aims to strategically deploy infocomm to provide a learner-centric, collaborative learning environment within and beyond the classroom, thereby enabling a diverse and vibrant schools landscape in the use of infocomm technologies (ICT).
Like so many developed countries, ageing population and increasing prevalence of chronical illnesses is a challenge for Singapore. Taking care of the elderly by family members instead of by professionals is an increasing burden, since the birth rate is dipping. Also, healthcare costs are rapidly increasing. Therefore, smartification of the healthcare system is required. Mobile apps to prevent chronical illnesses, like obesity and diabetes, are developed, use of telehealth tools are planned and IT solutions to improve logistics in hospitals are applied. Singapore is very interested in Dutch solutions in the context of aging.
The goal of the iN2015 Healthcare and Biomedical Sciences plan is to accelerate sectoral transformation through an infocomm-enabled personalized healthcare delivery system to achieve high quality clinical care, service excellence, cost effectiveness and strong clinical research. One of the programmes under the iN2015 is the Integrated Health Information Systems (IHIS). It yielded innovative and productive outcomes for Singapore’s 8 public hospitals to efficiently manage the medical, admin, financial and legal aspects of its public hospitals. Examples are the Electronic Medical Records Systems (e-medical records), filmless x-rays and mammograms, E-service onestop health and fitness training portal and online hospital pharmacy. Ministry of Health www.moh.gov.sg,, Health Promotion Board www.hpb.gov.sg Infocomm Development Authority www.ida.gov.sg.
Smart transport solutions
As a city state, Singapore is the second most densely populated country in the world. Today, roads take up 12 percent of total land area and the demands on the land transport system are set to increase by 60 percent. Singapore has made public transport the centrepiece of the land transport system to keep congestion in check and help protect the environment. The public transport alternatives include the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, buses and taxis. Taxis are less expensive than Dutch counterparts and part of daily public transport system.
The Land Transport Authority adopted an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) to improve operational efficiency and road safety of Singapore’s road network. It offers, inter alia: Real Time Traffic Information Systems, Expressway Monitoring Advisory System (EMAS – monitors traffic along expressways, traffic accident alerts to motorists and rescuers), Green Link Determining (GLIDE) System (monitors, adjusts and optimizes green time along the main roads in response to changing traffic demand); Traffic Scans (use taxis as probes on the road network to provide motorists with information on the traffic conditions island-wide); Parking Guidance System (provides real-time information on parking spaces availability of participating building developments).
An important factor in managing traffic, Singapore introduced an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system, with strategically placed gantries. Drivers pay ERP charges when they pass the gantry at certain times via the In-vehicle Unit (IU). Via this method, driving at certain roads at certain times of high traffic volume is discouraged.
The LTA is looking how to put in place a more effective system of congestion management. It is envisaged that the next generation of ERP will charge on the basis of distance along congested stretches of roads and expressways. This would be a more equitable and economically efficient system than the current point charging system where motorists are charged based on the number of gantries they drive through rather than distance travelled on a congested road. Ministry of Transport www.mot.gov.sg, Land Transport Authority www.lta.gov.sg, Energy Market Authority www.ema.gov.sg.
Smart logistics & maritime
The ease of customs clearance in Singapore has been underpinned by a set of initiatives in improving trade facilitation called “Trade-FIRST” where businesses can streamline its application process for different trade schemes, resulting in time/management cost savings for companies. In addition, Singapore has an established electronic national single-window allowing for one-stop submission of documentation thus, reducing red tape for businesses. Civil Aviation Authority Singapore www.caas.gov.sg In the last few years, environmental issues in the maritime industry gained prominence with an increased awareness of the environmental footprints caused by shipping activities. At the same time, rising fuel costs had also led to a growing consciousness on energy efficiency in maritime operations. Singapore is building a Liquefied Natural Gas terminal, and is looking into Electric Propulsion, Energy Management Systems for Port/Shipping and Bio-fuel Singapore Maritime Institute www.smi.gov.sg, Port Singapore Authority www.psa.gov.org, Maritime Port Authority www.mpa.gov.sg,
(demographic, economic, social/cultural, technological level, ecological, politics-juridical) Singapore is a small, stable, highly developed country with an elected parliamentary system of government. Singapore’s resident population of over five million inhabitants comprises 75% Chinese, 14% Malay, 9% Indian, and 2% others. English is widely spoken. Criminal penalties are strict and law enforcement rigorous.
Key figures for 2011:
Economic growth 4,9%, Gross Domestic Product S$326 billion, per capita income S$61,692, total trade S$974 billion. Within the EU, the Netherlands is the largest foreign direct investor, the second largest trading partner in services and the fourth in trade in goods. The government is actively negotiating several free trade agreements (FTAs), including one with the European Union. The EU-Singapore FTA is expected to be concluded soon.