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Public-private partnerships key for Singapore’s Smart Nation

Nurdianah Md Nur | July 28, 2015
An open data ecosystem is needed for such partnerships to be effective.

NetApp Smart Nation Panellists
(Left to right): Manik Bhandari, Accenture; Zafar Anjum; Eddie Toh, Intel; Rick Scurfield, NetApp; Jason Hunter, MarkLogic; Krishna Arani, NetApp; and Hugh Mason, JFDI. Credit: NetApp.

Collaborations between the public and private sectors will be integral for the success of Singapore's Smart Nation vision, asserted panellists at the recent "Driving the Smart Nation Vision with Data" dialogue in Singapore, organised by NetApp. 

According to Eddie Toh, Regional Director of Datacenter Platforms at Intel APAC, the idea of the public and private sector co-creating Smart Nation solutions is encouraged by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. "Instead of selecting one vendor to develop and deploy Smart Nation solutions, IDA chose to provide the infrastructure for such solutions to be built on. One example is the Heterogenous Network (HetNet), which is key for the Internet of Things (IoT) as it allows everything to be always connected."

"By laying down the groundwork, the government is enabling businesses to create solutions that will improve the lives of citizens, thus driving the next wave of innovation," added Zafar Anjum, author of Startup Capitals: Discovering the Global Hotspots of Innovation.

This is because innovations related to big data and the IoT require the right foundation in place, explained Hugh Mason, Chief Executive of Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI). "Startups are great at innovating new service offerings rapidly but anything involving big data and scale has got to connect to the existing public- and private-sector enterprises that form the bedrock of a nation."

Besides public-private collaboration, government agencies should share data with each other too, said Manik Bhandari, Managing Director of Accenture Digital. "For instance, video feeds from the SMRT and SBS cameras could be analysed and sent to the police to help in their gang prevention efforts, and the Land Transport Authority to deal with the illegal parking problem. Government agencies need to work together and intelligently apply technology to solve citizen issues."

For effective public- and private-sector collaboration to happen, an open data ecosystem is needed. "Since data silos prevent the full potential of big data from being realised, Singapore needs to mesh data from different sources to tackle future megatrends, such as urban density and ageing population. To enable this, we need solutions that are interoperable, as well as allow data to move and be worked on as needed," said Krishna Arani, NetApp's managing director for the East Asia Region.

"Companies today require solutions that can store and process all sorts of data from a central location. Relational databases won't work anymore as most data collected today and in future will be unstructured," added Jason Hunter, Chief Technology Officer of MarkLogic Asia Pacific.


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