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​The world's first smart city sounds ambitious.

But that's exactly what Singapore aims for with a Smart Nation program designed to put them firmly in the digital age.

Turning Singapore into a "living laboratory", the program has put trials in place across many different sectors – like housing, health, and transport.

Let's dig in.

Sustainable estates

In some neighbourhoods, smart trials are already well underway.

Last year, the Yuhua estate had thousands of sensors installed, enabling authorities to measure energy, waste production, and water usage in real-time.

The sensors provided residents with feedback to see exactly how much water and electricity they were using – and aim to reduce it.

The result?

The data gained from this was highly informative for the government, which can inform their decisions when creating future housing.

Remote healthcare

Healthcare is also an area that can significantly benefit from advanced technology, and Singapore has wasted no time getting started.

One pilot, known as Tele-health, addressed patients with limited mobility (such as those recovering from a stroke) getting the treatment they need.

The trial helped patients recover without travelling to hospitals or surgeries. With specially designed tablets, patients are guided through exercises – and their movements are recorded by camera and motion sensors.

Therapists review it, and doctors can then hold face-to-face video calls via the tablet.

Singapore's smart buses

In any large city, there are transport issues to tackle.

But Singapore has gone about it in a slightly different way. To improve bus services, they use sensors to help them monitor the service and GPS data to keep track of speed and how many people are on board.

But the bus stops themselves are also set for a re-vamp.

With the addition of Wi-Fi, interactive maps, e-books, and swings – they're aiming to make commuting a little more enjoyable.

Autonomous autos

Beyond public transport, they're focusing on self-driving vehicles.

It's still early days, but there is exciting progress – including self-driving buses, waste collection and road sweeping vehicles. Initial trials have also been launched for fleets of self-driving shuttles, which commuters will be able to book through their smartphones.

Additionally, there have been discussions around a government-mandated sat-nav system that would monitor every single car's whereabouts at any time and traffic conditions and speed.

It's a level of monitoring that hasn't been seen before, and it doesn't end there.

Virtual Singapore

A platform known as 'Virtual Singapore' is currently in production.

Almost like a 3D Google Maps, it's a replica of the city – with minute details included, like the layout of each building.

With data fed in, it will be capable of monitoring the movement of each car, the flow of energy, air quality, crowd density and more. It's a remarkable tool that is set to be open and available to researchers, businesses, and citizens.

With many other platforms in development like Digital Identity, Citizen Services, ePayment, Digital Trade, and IoT Sensor Data – there's a whole world of possibility waiting in the wings.​

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the country's minister for foreign affairs, has previously said: "if you visit Singapore, you should be able to say, 'I have seen the future – and it works."

For now, they certainly seem to be heading in the right direction.​

Related content: 7 ways cities are getting smarter

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