Singapore will this month launch a new research unit to support Smart Nation, it was announced today.

The Smart Systems Strategic Research Programme is a collaboration between two agencies in the Prime Minister’s Office – Smart Nation Programme Office and National Research Foundation – and the Ministry of Communications and Information.

The programme will have two areas of focus, said Minister-of-State for Communications and Information, Dr Janil Puthucheary, who also oversees Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.

“First, to support the development of digital technology in areas that affect citizens the most, such as transport, health and service productivity,” he said.

“Second, to build capabilities in platform technologies to open up possibilities for innovation in many different fields,” like sensors, 3D geospatial science and cybersecurity, he added.

Dr Puthucheary gave details on priorities for the new Government Technology Agency (GovTech).

An immediate responsibility will be to roll out a shared network of sensors – the Smart Nation platform – for agencies across government to collect data, he said Currently, each agency deploys their own sensors, and collects its own data. “This slows innovation and increases costs,” he said.

The first areas of focus for this platform will be transport and security. “We want to use the data to reduce crowdedness, improve bus waiting times and comfort,” Dr Puthucheary said. Video sensors on the Smart Nation platform will count vehicles, analyse their speeds and detect crowds.

GovTech will be formally established in the second half of the year.

Image by Jo., licensed under CC BY 2.0