Singapore is aiming to be the world’s first Smart Nation – but what does that actually entail?
You know what it’s like. You’re waiting for the bus on your way to work and inevitably, you’re late. Enter Singapore’s Smart Nation solution, which aims to merge technology into every aspect of life on the small island.
That includes some bus stops, which under this plan will now have interactive maps and wi-fi connectivity – even e-books and a swing. This is all an attempt to make the journeys of Singapore’s commuters more enjoyable and efficient.
If you look at how important the bus system is to public transport here, it makes sense. With almost four million daily rides, the bus network makes up the most significant part of Singapore’s transport network.
Nowhere is the scale of the project more evident than at the headquarters of the Land Transport Authority.
Using GPS data, researchers and programmers can tell how fast or slow a bus is going and how many people are on board at any given time.
“With this information we know where are the choke points at different times of the day,” said Christopher Hooi Wai Yean, deputy director of the authority’s communications and sensors division, as he demonstrated the movement of the buses on their screens. “[This way] we can put in measures to alleviate and dissipate the crowd at choke points across the island. This will ensure that the whole transport system is more well-oiled in that sense.”
It is an approach that is being replicated across all sectors – transport, homes, offices and even hospitals.
The KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital is one of the biggest and busiest in Singapore. On any day, it sees scores of patients – mainly pregnant women or mums with their kids. It began trialling video conferencing for its patients in non-emergency cases in November last year.
Gladys Soo is one such mum. Her five-year old son suffers from eczema and she started treatment for him in February.
“We went to the hospital in person for the first consultation to check for his eczema,” she told me. “The follow-up was done via video conferencing.”
Mrs Soo said the fact that she is a working mum was a factor in her decision to go for the video-conferencing option.
“It saves you time – I don’t have to travel, I don’t have to take leave. The doctor can actually view my son’s eczema on the video conference. And he can diagnose whether it is getting better – it is like being with him in person.”
Speech therapy, lactation consultation services and paediatric home care services are other aspects of medical care that KKH is using video conferencing to address.