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We already know about the smart cities of New York and Antwerp, but what does a smart city look like on the streets and in the homes of Singapore?


Singapore as a Smart City

Singapore is the smartest city in the world, according to the IMD’s inaugural Smart City Index.  

Its Smart Nation initiative was launched in 2014 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and three years later benefited from a government injection of SGD$2.4 billion (then equivalent to US$1.73 billion).  It has introduced a wide range of smart technologies in both its public and private sectors.

The aim is to create a city powered by digital innovation and technology that responds to citizens’ ever-changing needs.

Let's dig in.



5 ways Singapore is transforming its urban landscape:

#1. Mobility as a shared community experience

Land is at a premium in high-density Singapore, where just 12% has been set aside for transport infrastructure.

To optimize transport efficiency, utilizing sensor technology, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) has created an autonomous fleet to help the city’s elderly and disabled residents stay mobile.

At the same time, students at the National University of Singapore can be ferried around campus on a self-driving shuttle.

The city-state has an electronic road pricing system that uses real-time traffic data to adjust toll rates and manage traffic congestion.

And there's more.

To help with transport optimization, public data – or ‘open data’ – is being used in a trial to facilitate transport planning. Data from fare cards to sensors in more than 5,000 vehicles, and the real-time tracking of busses, is analyzed.

The result? The trial has reduced the rate of over-crowded buses by 92%. 

More: download our latest infographics How smart is your city?


Contactless payment technology is being used to streamline the movements and payments of the 7.5 million passengers who use public transport each day. As in an increasing number of cities, commuters can pay using contactless cards or mobile wallets. 

These are just some of the many transport projects in Singapore.

The city is also running a Smart Mobility 2020 initiative, a joint venture between the Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA) and the Intelligent Transportation Society of Singapore, to enhance commuters’ travel experience by the development of intelligent transport systems.

Meanwhile, the Travel Smart Programme aims to more evenly distribute morning peak hour travel demand on the rail network in three ways: encouraging citizens to re-think

  • when they travel,
  • how they travel (for example, switching to bicycles)
  • reducing the amount they travel (encouraging working remotely).

#2. Healthier citizens

By 2050, 47% of Singapore’s population will be 65 or older.

To reduce the pressure of an aging population on the city’s care services, Singapore has digitized its healthcare system

Singapore's e-health initiative is a comprehensive digital platform that aims to improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare services in the country. The initiative is driven by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), and it involves various stakeholders in the healthcare industry, including healthcare providers, technology companies, and patients. 

The e-health platform comprises several components that work together to provide a seamless healthcare experience for patients. Some of the key components include:

HealthHub: HealthHub is an online portal that allows patients to manage their health and wellness. It provides features such as appointment booking, prescription refills, and access to medical records.

Telemedicine: Telemedicine enables patients to consult with doctors remotely through video conferencing or messaging. This can be especially useful for patients who live far from healthcare facilities or have mobility issues.

 TeleRehab: TeleRehab allows patients to undergo exercises in their own home – wearable Internet of Things (IoT) devices monitor patients’ progress and transmit the data to their therapist over a wireless network. 

Robotics in Singapore is helping to reduce loneliness in an aging population.

How is that possible?

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered ‘chatbots’ talk to the elderly, tell them about community activities, and integrate messages that promote healthy living.
  • The AI-powered  Smart Elderly Alert System monitors and learns people’s regular movements, alerting a caregiver when something out of the ordinary occurs, and urgent care might be required.

#3. "There's an app for that"

The phrase became increasingly familiar as smartphone use grew, and in Singapore, this couldn’t be more apt, as an estimated 90% of its population own smartphones.

The Smart Nation app is a mobile application developed by the government of Singapore to provide citizens with a one-stop platform to access a wide range of government services and information. The app is designed to simplify and streamline the way citizens interact with the government, making it easier and more convenient to access important services and information.

Some of the features of the Smart Nation app include:

Digital Identity: The app allows users to create a digital identity, which can be used to access a range of government services, such as applying for permits and licenses.

Government Services: The app provides access to a wide range of government services, including payment of fines, renewal of passports, and booking of government facilities.

Feedback and Reporting: The app allows citizens to provide feedback and report issues such as broken public facilities or incidents of littering.

Personalized Information: The app provides personalized information based on the user's location and interests, such as news and events happening in the user's vicinity.

Emergency Information: The app provides real-time updates on emergencies and incidents happening in the user's area, such as traffic accidents or natural disasters.

Overall, the Smart Nation app is an important tool for citizens of Singapore to stay connected with their government and access important services and information.

#4. Supporting business

Singapore’s Punggol Digital District merges the Singapore Institute of Technology with a business park.

This district aims to foster development in cybersecurity and IoT technologies by enabling better integration between industry and academia,

A data-sharing collaborative, the Data Innovation Programme Office, has also been established, to encourage transparent business interactions. And businesses that transact directly with the government can now do so through CorpPass, an online hub that enhances what the city calls “cyber hygiene”.

#5. Learning to be smart

Singapore is educating using artificial intelligence, under its TechSkills Accelerator programme, Two initiatives – AI for Everyone and AI for Industry – led by AI Singapore – will support the upskilling of 12,000 professionals and students in AI.

These initiatives encourage citizens to be part of the change towards the city becoming “digitally ready”, and proactively spearhead this movement. 

The city also has a digital national identity system, a Smart National Sensor Platform, and Virtual Singapore – a 3D digital model of the city that can run simulations and support future planning – to name just a few hi-tech innovations.

Overall, Singapore's success as a smart city can be attributed to its ability to leverage technology to improve the quality of life for its citizens, while also prioritizing sustainability and efficient governance. Through data- and technology-driven initiatives like these, Singapore has created a leading smart ecosystem that places citizens at its heart.


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