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Singapore’s Approach to Smart Urban Development

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Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State for the Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Home Affairs, in a recent speech, emphasised the crucial role of technology, smart city innovations, and sustainability in urban development. He highlighted that urban rejuvenation goes beyond mere infrastructure improvements to include social cohesion and economic opportunities, necessitating collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Professor Ibrahim underscored the importance of technology in tackling global challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation, and ageing populations. In Singapore, smart amenities are being integrated into housing estates to enhance safety and promote active ageing, demonstrating the city-state’s commitment to leveraging technology for urban development.

Singapore’s approach to sustainable urban development is built on successful partnerships and a robust digital transformation strategy. Initiatives like the Digital Enterprise Blueprint and GPT-Legal aim to revolutionise various sectors, while the Smart Port Challenge 2024 focuses on fostering innovation in the maritime industry.

These efforts are part of a broader vision for a smart future, where a Digital Government, Digital Economy, and Digital Society harness technology to transform health, transport, urban living, government services, and businesses.

However, it is important to note that while the approach is digital-first, it is not digital only. The “digital first but not digital-only” approach ensures user-friendly digital services while providing non-digital alternatives for those who need them. This includes in-person help through ServiceSG centres. Additionally, programmes like the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) Digital Skills for Life and Seniors Go Digital help citizens learn essential digital skills.

The Digital Government is committed to investing in infrastructure and creating shared open platforms for businesses and citizens to learn and develop. The Digital Economy encourages businesses to invest in technology and talent to drive growth beyond Singapore’s shores. Meanwhile, the Digital Society empowers individuals to cultivate their talents with the latest digital tools, helping them achieve their aspirations and improve their quality of life.

Singapore’s cybersecurity capabilities are vital to its national security, digital economy, and digital way of life. The Cyber Security Agency (CSA) continuously monitors cyberspace for threats, protecting critical information infrastructure to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of essential services. By analysing risks and implementing mitigation measures, CSA plays a crucial role in safeguarding the nation.

The use of data science and artificial intelligence is central to Singapore’s strategy to improve citizen-centric services and support government policies. As AI continues to transform industries, ethical concerns have emerged, prompting the IMDA to lead efforts in AI governance.

With global consumer trust in AI at just 35%, IMDA prioritises accuracy, bias-aware decision-making, and data privacy through frameworks like the Model AI Governance Framework and AI Verify. By collaborating with international bodies, Singapore aims to set global AI standards.

The IMDA and ITSC’s IoT Technical Committee have developed a suite of IoT standards focusing on interoperability and cybersecurity. These standards enable an ecosystem of interoperable sensor network devices and systems, reduce deployment costs, and support Singapore’s enterprises. By promoting secure and open interfaces between devices and systems, these standards encourage the development of innovative solutions and lower entry barriers for technopreneurs. This fosters a more secure and interoperable IoT ecosystem, benefiting businesses and consumers alike.

Professor Ibrahim stressed that cities can overcome challenges through knowledge sharing and smart technology, fostering vibrant, sustainable urban environments. Singapore’s Smart Nation journey is a testament to its dedication to leveraging technology for sustainable development, ensuring that it remains a global leader in innovation and sustainability. Through strategic initiatives, robust cybersecurity measures, and ethical AI governance, Singapore is paving the way for a brighter, more connected future.


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