"We just don't want to be consumers but exporters of experiences and ideas," said Steve Leonard, IDA's executive deputy chairman, outlining his vision of Singapore as a Smart Nation in his welcome address at the EmTech Conference in Singapore on Tuesday.
Leonard said that today there are two unstoppable forces shaping not just Singapore but the entire world-urban density and mobility.
By virtue of Singapore being a densely populated country (8,000 people per square kilometers, compared to 35 in the USA and 265 in the UK), the country faces immense challenges as a space-challenged nation. Singapore's Smart Nation push seeks to capitalize on this challenge using big data and other technologies.
A related problem in this regard is the aging population in the country. There are nearly 300,000 people in Singapore who are 65 plus-it means that 1 in 9 people is old. By 2030, this number will surge to 900,000 (1 in 5 will be old). According to Leonard, the implication of this aging population is that there will be more demand for hospital beds than the government could provision for. This is the challenge. But the opportunity is that using technologies like genome sequencing or monitoring patients using smart chips, 35 percent of the old people could be treated outside the hospital, thus lessening the burden on healthcare organisations.
Mobility is another pivotal part of the Smart Nation vision-Singapore has 12 percent of usable land as roads (out of 9081 kms). Out of that area, recently 6km roads has been reserved for trial of autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars).
Leonard said that in the new vision of the country, 'everyone, everything is connected everywhere all the time'. He said that we can't afford to have any dark space (space without connectivity, such as a lift shaft) if this vision is to work.
He added that people still might have concerns about data protection and privacy related issues. "We have to help allay those concerns," he said.
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