CommunicAsia 2013: IDA eyes S'pore to be world's first 'smart' nation

Steve Leonard, the recently appointed leader of the ICT regulator, outlines in his first public address how Singapore is geared to be the first country to fully embrace the Internet of Things and likens it to the U.S. mission to the moon.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore believes the country has the unique opportunity to be the world's first 'smart' nation, in wiring up every corner of the nation and fully embracing the Internet of Things.

steve leonard
Steve Leonard, executive deputy chairman of IDA. (credit: Ryan Huang/ZDNet)

According to Steve Leonard, executive deputy chairman of IDA, by leveraging machine-to-machine connectivity the performances of various industries such as energy, healthcare, education and public safety could be improved. He likened it to how a Formula 1 race car would from various data collection points typically send 25 megabytes per lap to pit crew, enabling them to give feedback to the driver on how to improve.

"If I know something I can take action, if I don't know something I can't take action, or the action I take may not be the right action," explained the recently appointed IDA deputy chairman. He was speaking at an industry summit CommunicAsia 2013 here on Wednesday.

Fundamentals ready in Singapore 

The IDA executive noted the building blocks were already in place for Singapore for "a sensor fabric network connecting anything and everything", where applications could be written upon and data could be gathered. These factors include the recently taken legislative steps over data privacy, the existing "big pool" of technology talent, and the enabling infrastructure in place with the nationwide fiber network roll out covering over 95 percent of Singapore.

"Singapore has the unique opportunity to be the first smart nation in any part of the world, with all parts of the island connected to one another, said Leonard. In order to achieve this, IDA will work closely with the industry and education institutes to put together the pieces.

"There was not an understanding of how to do that, there were parts and pieces about how to do it but not a complete picture."
Steve Leonard
IDA deputy chairman

He likened the challenge to how the late former U.S. President John F. Kennedy issued his challenge in the 1960s to send a man to the moon and back safely. "There was not an understanding of how to do that, there were parts and pieces about how to do it but not a complete picture.
"So when if I think about the entire island of Singapore having a sensor fabric network upon which many applications can be written, and many sources of data can be gathered for the purpose of improving performance--we don't know how to do all that but we have some good ideas," elaborated Leonard.

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