Reinventing our Nation with Technology: Can We Play a Part in Building a Smart Nation?

Have you heard of the term ‘smart cities’? These cities around the world are applying new technologies to improve their liveability and to combat issues like energy management. Well, rather than a city, Singapore aims to become the world’s first ‘Smart Nation’. Find out more about this idea, innovative examples of smart cities, and how we can contribute to it in this article!

What’s a Smart Nation?

A Smart Nation is Singapore’s goal to pull together many players and contributors of society in order to go beyond becoming a ‘smart city’. By drawing on the potential and capability of our universities, R&D sector and community of tech start-ups, the government seeks to make Singapore a more efficient and effective nation as a whole. To do this, many innovative smart city technologies need to be tied together and be driven towards a collective goal.

The goal? To use the best technology to better the lives of the nation’s people and to create better business opportunities with the rest of the world.

Singapore is but one of the many cities around the world which are fast recognising the benefits and potential behind investing in smart city technologies. For example, London’s ‘Smart City Challenge’ held last year offered up to £750,000 for developers to come up with solutions to issues faced by those living in the city.

What are some great examples of smart cities?

Coppenhagen. 45% of all commuters cycle to work or school. Bikes in Coppenhagen are ‘smart’: In a BBC report, they are shown to be equipped with tablets which can provide GPS travel guides, and can also use electric power so that the cyclist doesn’t need to use up so much energy travelling from place to place. Other smart initiatives taken by the city have also played a part in reducing this city’s carbon footprint to one of the lowest in the world today.

Paris. The large scale bikesharing network, Vélib, has allowed the people in this city to share bikes to commute while reducing and saving resources. Just find a Vélib station, rent a bike to cycle to where you want to go, and return it to any nearby station once you’re done! With over 1,000 of such stations located around Paris, this mode of commuting has been made very convenient. Apart from Vélib, there is also Autolib’, an electric car sharing service!

Jakarta. To manage flooding in the city, researchers from the University of Wollongong created PetaJakarta (map Jakarta). Using Tweets made on Twitter about floods, PetaJakarta takes this crowdsourced data and creates a real time map of the city. This people-centred approach is one way that smart city initiatives are directly benefiting the community.

Can I Play a Part?

While we are the developing, preadolescent stage of our journey towards being a Smart Nation, this also means that we have a lot of legroom and potential to grow as a nation of thinkers and doers.

The slogan for Singapore’s Smart Nation campaign: “Many Smart Ideas. One Smart Nation.” is an inspiring phrase that reminds us that there are many ways to contribute and to innovate in our lives. Instead of aiming to achieve things in the tried and tested way, we should embrace new ideas and experiments as we move towards a collective Smart Nation. Additionally, it is about synthesizing different ideas together in order to create a better whole.

We can’t help but feel that we can also adopt this same curiosity and desire to bring together different perspectives, into our personal lives. Whether you are constantly striving to better yourself or to reinvent one aspect of your life, you should keep an open mind about what you can do. Be curious about the world around you and your own habits – you don’t need to be a scientist to observe your surroundings, study them, and come up with a hypothesis! Tiny scientific endeavours are part of everyone’s lives – every time we learn something new about ourselves, is a step towards developing a clearer understanding of who we are, what we want, and what we can do.

While Singapore is challenging itself to become a better, ‘smarter’ nation, we as individuals should also push ourselves to the next level. Every opportunity we have to improve our skills and to contribute back to the community is a way we’re contributing to the building of our Smart Nation!

One of the fun ways we can play a part in the Smart Nation project is to learn more about it with family and friends. The Science Fest 2016 is a great event to do this!

Learn More at the Science Fest 2016

‘Being Smart with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)’ is the theme of this year’s event. The festival will be featuring the projects of STEM experts, and how these projects may be put in place in future to enhance our lives. A couple of key events are:

  1. Science Buskers festival

Happening at Vivocity, this will be a fun and open fair for different individuals to share their scientific innovations to the public. Experience the creativity and potential of technology firsthand with your family and friends. Come down and vote for your favourite entry at the festival!

2. STAR Lecture (2 – 4 August 2016, 3.30pm – 5.30pm)

Interested in space and the stars that adorn it? This lecture may entice you as Dr Kevin Fong will be discussing “How to Survive in Space”. He’ll also be showing how engineering, science and medicine can help explain life, earth, and the universe as a whole. Time Peake, an astronaut from Britain, will also be at the talk! Expect to learn how to recycle water in space and the purpose of having artificial gravity onboard spaceships.

Are you as excited as we are about the possibilities of a Smart Nation? Learn more about Singapore’s initiatives and the Smart Nation project at their official website here. Together, we can build a smart nation and a brighter future!


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