Fasten your digital seatbelt. Singapore’s smart city innovation is zooming to the West.
After joining forces with Abu Dhabi last year to promote smart city innovation, Singapore is expanding its collaboration with the United States on “digital economy and smart cities” under their Partnership for Growth and Innovation (PGI).
This announcement came as President Joe Biden hosted Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to discuss the U.S.-ASEAN relationship, encouraging the restoration of democracy in Burma, and the war in Ukraine, among others.
Together with Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), both nations have also agreed to expand their collaboration in three other areas: clean energy technology, advanced manufacturing standards and supply chain resilience, and healthcare.
MTI Minister Gan Kim Yong, alongside DOC Secretary Gina Raimondo and Singapore’s Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, praised the continued development of the PGI, believing it can boost “economic collaboration” between Southeast Asia and the United States.
“Through this initiative, we are bringing together our private sectors to strengthen trade and investment collaboration, starting with four pillars that pose profound challenges and offer tremendous opportunities to our societies and economies,” Minister Gan said.
In this new bilateral partnership with Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) is looking to apply cybersecurity best practices throughout the country. This includes working through the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence to develop smart city regional capacity building programs.
Meanwhile, Singapore has been a pace-setter on smart city technology: For the third year in a row, Singapore has ranked number one in “city performance” ahead of Zurich and Oslo in second and third, respectively, as per the 2021 Smart City Index.
A "smart city" is an urban area that aims to better assist the public by using its technology to enhance its “operational efficiency” and improve quality of life. Examples of this include optimizing traffic light systems to facilitate traffic flow as well as monitoring sewers and other forms of infrastructure.
For Singapore, this comes in the form of Virtual Singapore, a virtual “three-dimensional (3D) city model”—or digital twin—of the island. Once completed, the data platform can be used as a “test bed” by various sectors to solve Singapore’s most pressing challenges, such as climate change.
To date, the digital twin efforts—in which Singapore has invested $73 million SD, or $53 million USD—have been helping the city-state’s rollout of renewable energy. In fact, data on building models helped the government create a plan for meeting its solar energy commitments by 2030.
With this new collaboration, the United States may have the opportunity to do the same, which would support the country's smart city initiatives already in place.
Currently, the Smart Cities and Communities Framework (SCCF) series created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is guiding the development and implementation of relevant technologies, tackling sector-related challenges such as those in transportation and utilities.
Secretary Raimondo is hopeful that the collaboration established through the PGI will continue the economic engagement that can help address these challenges.
“This work demonstrates the Commerce Department’s continued commitment to foster collaboration among U.S. and Singapore companies on emerging topics and issues that will not only allow us to build back from the pandemic, but also help ensure that economic growth in the future is both robust and inclusive.”
Minister Gan and Secretary Raimondo signed the Memorandum of Understanding that enacted the PGI in October 2021.