Singapore is tapping artificial intelligence as the next part of its "Smart Nation" project, the city-state's foreign minister announced Tuesday. The strategy identifies five areas -- transportation, smart cities, healthcare, education and public safety -- where AI can be used to make big change. As part of its strategy, Singapore also announced the creation of a National AI Office to "drive the national AI agenda." The office will work to enjoin efforts underway in the city-state's research, industry and government sectors to tackle key challenges. Vivian Balakrishnan, who leads the Smart Nation Initiative for Singapore, and serves as its foreign minister, officially announced the new strategy at the opening session of Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
Singapore, ranked the smartest city in the world in certain polls, has warned cities they must get a handle on artificial intelligence (AI) if they are to succeed as'smart cities', trusted by citizens and enterprises to manage data correctly. The warning came at Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona today (November 19), as Singapore, awarded city of the year at the 2018 show, shared the stage with local politicians from Barcelona and Madrid at the 2019 kick-off. Vivian Balakrishnan, minister for foreign affairs for the government of Singapore, set out Singapore's own AI strategy, as a geographically-constrained but tech-savvy city state. "This technology will change the world, and cities that master AI will get ahead -- those that don't will be left behind," he said. "The fact computers and systems can now see hear, speak and understand is transformational. It will transform our economy, disrupt our politics, alter the nature of our jobs -- and it will define the next phase of our'smart nation' journey."
You've read about cities installing smart parking meters and noise- and air-quality sensors, but are you ready to embrace the idea of a city brain? The residents of Singapore are on track to do just that. Creating a centralized dashboard view of sensors deployed across a distributed network is nothing new, but it takes on a bigger -- perhaps ominous -- meaning when deployed across a major city. Many technologically advanced cities worldwide are exploring ways to build such comprehensive digital views for managing traffic and parking, monitoring water and air quality, and offering such citizen-facing services as web-based tools for interacting with government agencies. Some smart city experts call this system approach a "city brain" or, less glamorously, a "municipal backplane."
Singapore has announced a new partnership with Microsoft to create a digital government services platform that will shift towards conversational computing. Announcing the initiative at the World Cities Summit in the city-state on 12 July, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-In-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, said the new medium, conceptually referred to as "Conversations as a Platform" will use chatbots -- intelligent software programmes that simulate human behaviour. "I believe there are more intuitive ways for government services to be delivered to our citizens," Dr Balakrishnan said. The chatbots, which combine human language, artificial intelligence and machine learning, are envisioned to make public and business transactions simpler, more efficient, and more consistent. "Everybody expects responsive and personalised interactions in real time.
Singapore will adopt a human-centric approach to AI, and focus on the use of the technology to deliver impactful social and economic benefits for its citizens. The government has initially identified five key sectors: Transport and Logistics, Smart Cities and Estates, Healthcare, Education, Safety, and Border Security (about 300,000 people cross the border with Malaysia daily). The city-state of Singapore was the recipient of the Smart City award in 2018. The vast array of solutions developed by the government from dynamic public bus routing algorithms to real-time parent-teacher portals, or even predictive analytics for water pipe leaks, have proved that Singapore systematically pursues the application of innovative digital technologies to improve people's lives. "We believe that AI is a transformative technology. The fact that computers and systems can now see, hear, understand, and speak, is transformational. It will transform our economy and societies, and disrupt our politics. It will alter the nature of jobs, and the skills our people will need." said Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, who is also Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Programme Office, during the Smart City Expo World Congress opening ceremony.