The Prime Minister wants our problems solved through technologies. We’re going to be a “smart city”, it sounds cute – as if this country was finally turning smart.
What on earth then is a smart city?
Just two basic components is sufficient to make a city smart: sensors and wireless functions. With these two come a myriad of possibilities.
For example: air quality can be monitored for quality, water pipes and drains can be monitored for leaks and overflows. Lamp posts can be fitted with video sensors to manage crowds or spot crimes. Sensors can even observe the streets and carparks, adjusting and diverting traffic in real time.
In a country such as Singapore where privacy isn’t such a big concern, the possibilities grow even wider. For example, there could be facial recognition softwares which can determine if you have licences, your age or are supposed to be where you are or not.
One cute feature that was installed in the United Arab Emirates is a “happiness meter”, this system collects digital inputs from ordinary citizens on their reactions to various things – the cleanliness of the streets, effectiveness of security checkpoints and so on. It’s a little like the quality survey button you press in a toilet or at some retails stores. The government will then know how happy you are, or not with a particular service.
There are already several initiatives in place, just for a flavour, here are three key areas that have smart initiatives implemented.
You’ve seen the ERP, but in 2020 a more efficient version of ERP will be in use. What we will see is a government mandated satellite navigation system in all vehicles. The system will silently monitor where a car is at any given point in time. Authorities will then be able to monitor traffic conditions and then charge (to discourage use) or give advisories on what roads to avoid.
The satellite system will also make it easier and cheaper to implement a parking system. But we don’t have to wait till 2020 for this to be in use. As we speak, there is an app being tested to replace traditional parking coupons. The system will allow you to specify the amount of time you require for parking and then allow you to remotely top-up the system. Say goodbye to carpark summons!
As incidences of terrorism rise in the world, there needs to be more advanced solutions to tackle this. More security cameras should be fitted around the city and not just plain old cameras. Facial recognition, motion detection and other features can help track, identify and even prevent incidences from happening. If one was really imaginative, a perpetrator can even be trapped in a lift, a car, a building or a street whilst the law enforcers are on their way.
For the past two years, Singapore has been testing an “Elderly Monitoring System” (EMS), a noninvasive program that uses sensors on doors and inside rooms to monitor movement. If there’s a lack of activity or the system detects some other incident, the caregiver, be it a family member or a professional, is alerted instantly.
One of the pilots in the health care industry is “Tele-health”. What this means is that you don’t need to leave your house, or even see a doctor, to get medical treatment.
Trials have been undertaken. In these trials, patients are guided on how to exercise through tablets. Sensors and cameras record the activities of patients for therapists to review. Weekly video conferences are held with patients, just like a regular doctor-patient visit. Over a hundred citizens have taken part and the results will be published soon.
These are just a small sample of possibilities that technology can make our lives easier.
Smart technology is indeed the way forward for the nation.