Singapore has been named the Smart City of 2018 at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona this week.

The country was recognised for Smart Nation, a nationwide initiative that promotes the use of digital technology and innovation to boost liveability and sustainability.

“Singapore’s Smart Nation efforts are about the transformation of our country, through technology. We will continue to create a better lived experience for our citizens, and these efforts must benefit our future generations as well,” said Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State and Minister-in-charge of GovTech, in a statement.

From healthcare to transport, the government has developed a wide array of smart solutions. For instance, the Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative has a vision for citizens to interact with government and businesses almost entirely through their smartphones. More agencies are now transferring money and reimbursements to bank accounts linked to mobile or identity card numbers, he said.

Moments of Life, one of five key national strategic projects under Smart Nation, clusters key services together to help people navigate crucial moments in their lives. For example, when a young mother gives birth, she can register her baby’s details through a mobile app.

Meanwhile, the urban planning agency uses commuter data to plan neighbourhoods that bring workplaces closer to residences – reducing morning commutes. And soon, citizens will be able to scan their face to access public services, as the country builds a centralised biometric identification system.

The country is exploring predictive maintenance on its extensive subway network to help reduce disruptions, which have occurred frequently over the past few years. There are trials later this year to explore hands-free ticketing and on-demand public bus routes as well.

“Among the excellent finalists, Singapore came out strong for its clear strategy, its ability to implement digital initiatives nationwide, and its focus on placing citizens at the centre of its Smart Nation efforts,” said Dionosio González, Director of Advocacy & Outreach at UITP, and a member of the World Smart City Awards 2018 honour jury, after the awards ceremony.

Only one other award winner, China, was from Asia. The government of Gaoqing County in Zibo City received the Digital Transformation award, while Jinshan District in Shanghai was recognised with the Urban Environment award.