S'pore healthcare, maritime get boost

About US$3.7 million will go to seven IT projects in healthcare, as well as applications that tap on wireless broadband network at Singapore's southern coastline.

COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE--The government will pump S$3 million (US$2.2 million) over the next two years into seven IT projects to enhance the country's healthcare industry.

Ronnie Tay, CEO of Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), unveiled this and other plans Wednesday at the iX2008 conference, a day after the government shared new initiatives targeting both businesses and consumers. The iX conference falls under the umbrella imbX 2008 show, which also includes CommunicAsia and BroadcastAsia.

Tay said the IDA issued a call for collaboration last October to healthcare institutions and infocomm companies, requesting the submission of proposals aimed at improving the quality and system of clinical care in Singapore.

Of the 27 proposals received at the end of January 2008, seven will be eligible for the funds jointly provided by the IDA, Ministry of Health and The Enterprise Challenge, an initiative under the Prime Minister's Office, he said.

Selected projects include the use of wireless equipment in ambulances to transmit ECG (electrocardiogram) readings to accident and emergency departments in hospitals, which will allow for timely intervention and reduce fatalities for heart attack patients.

Another project centers on an interactive portal for users to easily access health information and assessment tools, as well as advice from a pool of experts. The initiative seeks to develop a community proactive in the self-management of health.

Extending reach at sea
Singapore's maritime community will also receive a funding boost of some S$2 million (US$1.5 million) from the IDA and five companies, to develop applications and services that leverage the country's WISEPORT initiative. Launched in March, WISEPORT provides WiMax coverage for shipping terminals and sea vessels at the southern coastline of the island-state.

According to Tay, the five projects were selected from a pool of 19 proposals submitted under a call for collaboration initiated by the IDA and Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority in December 2007.

"By 2009, the maritime community can have access to up-to-date navigational information, training materials and entertainment content, all delivered electronically within 15 kilometers from Singapore's southern coastline," he said.

One such application is the collection and retrieval of updated data such as tidal status and weather, which will help shipping vessels, dive operators and leisure craft operators better plan and manage navigation and operations.

Tay added that over S$5 million (US$3.7 million) will be spent over the next two years to boost infrastructure and content for the WISEPORT network.

Putting mobility into payment
The IDA is also looking to boost e-payment deployment in Singapore, he said. The ICT regulator is working on a next-generation e-payment program to accelerate consumer and merchant adoption, particularly in areas such as retail and food and beverage. More details will be revealed by year's end, said Tay.

An industry roundtable comprising 15 representatives from government agencies has also been formed to look into the use of NFC (near field communications) for mobile payment. The group will focus on formulating a framework for deployment, as well as guidelines for interoperability.