The Internet of Things (IoT) is not currently generating great enthusiasm in government departments. The concept is much hyped, but – as a GovInsider survey found out recently – only 10% of public sector IT officials think it is a priority this year.

Dr Tan Guan Hong of the Institute for Infocomm Research believes IOT is vital for Singapore to achieve economic objectives. Speaking at an Oracle round table, he gave four ways that government must push growth in IOT to build a stronger economy.

1. Singapore’s Smart Nation brand creates opportunities for companies

The Smart Nation brand is an umbrella for local enterprise, Dr Tan said. Government can lead the way through investment and standardisation, creating interest and opportunities for suppliers to try delivering new services.

Steve Leonard, executive deputy chairman of the IDA, says that Singapore is big enough that it attracts big business, but small enough that it can allow experimentation. Dr Tan said this advantage will be important for the next wave of local technology companies.

2. IOT can grow a startup ecosystem

In 2014, only 7% of technology enterprises in Singapore were SMEs, Dr Tan said. Multinationals employ almost 75% of the Singapore workforce.
However, Multinationals are unlikely to grow quickly because of their size. So “job employment has to come from SMEs in years to come,” he says.

IOT can be an area where SMEs flourish, because they will be a key part of the delivery network – installing sensors, and using them for niche services. “The government will come in as a lead user and a demand driver,” he noted. “It’s trying to spur economic growth so that companies take the opportunity”.

3. It creates new skills and opportunities

Higher education is embracing IOT in Singapore, Dr Tan noted. “All of the polytechnics are training IOT courses,” he said, adding: “where are you going to get your next generation of people who can do IOT solutions in smart cities? You need engineers and designers.”

4. Businesses can already use it to develop an edge

When Marina Bay Sands was being constructed, it had 480,000 sensors monitoring it – Dr Tan said.

There was a risk that, before the two halfs were joined together, they would shift and create a structural imbalance. So the sensors monitored the building as it was built. “By using sensors, we take the risk off the customer,” Dr Tan said. The constructors built the whole thing in a year, confident of the building’s integrity thanks to IOT.

This can be true for other companies. But Singapore must provide that umbrella over small businesses as they use sensors to create new services, Tan said.

Now read: Oracle’s report on using the Internet of Things to create business value: