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Singapore to be a testbed for smart cities

Nurdianah Md Nur | March 13, 2015
The republic hopes to be a successful case study for smart city solutions by offering good infrastructure and opening access to its data.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Environment and Water Resources as well as Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, at the FOSSASIA on 13 March 2015.

Singapore's smart nation vision will not only benefit its citizens, but also other countries looking to become smart cities, according to Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Environment and Water Resources as well as Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative.

Addressing the crowd at FOSSASIA today (13 March 2015), he said that while Singapore may not be able to offer the benefits of Silicon Valley, it can become a proving ground for innovative technologies. 

"We can be part of the value chain of smart cities while capturing some of the benefits for our people. Our size and good infrastructure allow [tech] companies to execute their proof-of-concept in Singapore on a national level. And if it succeeds, the technology or project can be elevated to be used in other countries to realise their smart city visions."

Open source and co-creation would be key in enabling the creation of innovative technologies for smart cities, claimed Dr Balakrishnan. "Real world problems can be solved with the values underlying open source: rigorous, innovation and sharing."

In line with this belief, the Singapore government launched a one-stop data portal, data.gov.sg, to enable the public to access more than 8,000 data sets from 60 public agencies in machine readable formats. Currently available data include economic, population and census statistics, as well as traffic and weather data.

The government hopes that providing access to machine readable data will encourage the co-creation of apps with the public to better serve the community. "Open source will create an opportunity for collective ownership of a problem. It will empower the organisations and individuals to create a solution to a co-owned problem, even if their methods differ. This opens up innovation and also lead to entrepreneurship," said Dr Balakrishnan.

Despite his strong support for open source, Dr Balakrishnan highlighted the need to address security issues surrounding open source. He reminded companies and individuals working on innovative and smart city technologies to ensure that their solutions are able to protect users' privacy. "Security should be built at the initial design stage instead of it being used to plug holes in the later stages. This is why [Singapore] is executing its smart nation vision in a deliberate, careful and reasonable way."

FOSSASIA 2015 is a conference featuring over 100 talks and workshops covering the latest in Free and Open Source Technology projects. It will be running in Singapore till this Sunday (15 March 2015).  

 

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