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Singapore Outlines Plans to Become First "Smart Nation"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 18 2014

Marina Bay, Singapore (Wikipedia)

Forget smart cities; Singapore has announced detailed plans on how they will become the world's first “smart nation.” The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) revealed their scheme at the CommunicAsia trade show yesterday by having a remote controlled quadcopter deliver a computer to an IDA representative onstage.

Steve Leonard, deputy chairman of the IDA, explained that the computer, a modified Arduino, is used to teach students how to program, just one of the elements of Singapore's smart nation plan.

Total Telecom thought the remote controlled quadcopter, which remind them of a drone, an unusual choice for stunt prop:

Exactly why a drone was chosen as a delivery vehicle for an Arduino is still anyone's guess though. It certainly doesn't scream smart nation when in all likelihood it is being piloted by someone using an iPhone app. There was also the risk that something would go wrong and it would plummet out of control into the audience. Happily that didn't happen and attendees were left unscathed but a little bemused.

The Jurong Lake District is slated to be the test site for the smart nation initiative. In the “Internet of Things” category there are plans to monitor lines at taxi stands, facilitate smart walking and navigation for special groups (senior citizens, “differently-abled people,” and cyclists), and optimize traffic lights to reduce congestion.

This will be accomplished by placing sensors around Singapore, which can monitor multiple things for different government agencies; things like smoking where it is prohibited.

Three “Above Ground Boxes,” which provide wireless optic fiber Internet in public areas, have already been installed in the Jurong Lake District, and the Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim says they eventually hope to have 100 installed. Most households in Singapore already have access to fiber Internet comparable to Google Fiber.

As to privacy concerns, Mr Khoong Hock Yun, IDA Assistant Chief Executive, told the press: “Civil servants are citizens too, so we are concerned about data privacy. It is about striking the right balance between trust and data collected.”

He added that Singapore is unique in its ability to scale the idea of a smart city to the national level, although, as CNET points out, Singapore isn't much bigger—in terms of area—than San Francisco.

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