Assignment: The Smart Nation Initiative & Design Intervention
What is a Smart Nation?
Surpassing global expectations and standards are not exactly new headlines for Singapore. For the eighth consecutive year, Singapore has attained first ranking for World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index. It’s also been acknowledged by Ookla for having the world’s fastest broadband nation and labeled as the top and fastest-changing digital economy according to Tufts University. Nevertheless, there is now a new goal our nation is heading towards, which is to attain a new label to further enhance the country’s already remarkable list of accolades and that’s ‘Smart Nation.’
In 2014, Smart Nation was launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as an initiative which aims to support better living, stronger communities, and create more opportunities for all. The idea was to create systems where Singapore would act as a beta lab for all essential tests and experiments to be carried out. Where the use of technology implementations are utilised to solve problems and address existing challenges. The four key categories for implementing their plans for a smart nation is Health, Living, Mobility and Services, where
In many cases, initiatives involve the use of new technologies that allow breakthrough in things that were not possible before. These initiatives often include integrating different policies, people and information systems that could sometimes be disruptive for the citizens in its initial phase of research. However, it is certainly unwise to impede the nation from further growth just for these small hurdles. Hence, the SSNI plays a part in providing assistance to researchers who require carrying out beta testing in an environment that would not cause disturbance to others. An example a case study in reference to this point would be the innovation of Self-Driving Vehicles (SDV). In July 2015, vehicles were approved to be tested out at one-north, the first public road network with demarcated routes which are 6km long, as an initial staging test-bed to serve as a proof-of-concept for SDV testing.
It was also heart warming to see that implementations were not only taking care of the tech-davy younger generations, but also including the older generations. As we enter the phase where Singapore faces an aging population, healthcare is a major issue. How could we improve healthcare on a Smart Nation level? The idea of HealthHub initiated where a web portal and mobile application launched in January 2016 was created to allow users to have access to the one-stop online health information and services portal. The Ministry of Health’s Health IT Masterplan carried out a project where healthcare institutions are now connected to one another to provide continuity of care of patients. One major benefit for this case would be the reduced lines at a particularly populated area polyclinic. Now, patients can visit other healthcare institutions and receive continuation of treatment at a different location.
The thought of technology advancement has also made me feel a little detached from my family members, as it is commonly seen at a dinner table that everyone is looking down at their phones. The Kampung Spirit which is part of a local culture for caring and sharing for your neighbours seem to have been diminished. In the past, people went knocking around each other’s doors when they ran out of salt. Now the convenience of groceries delivery would do the job. Which spurred a thought in me, what if we continued to move forward as a nation without throwing away what we had in the past could we bring back the Kampung Spirit again? The idea of Kampung Spirit is also evident in this initiative for a Smart Nation. For people come together and contribute for a better future, therefore developing connections between people.
Design Intervention : ShareTown
Which result in my thoughts of having a development of a nation where we could reduce wastage by sharing. The idea of the system is called ShareTown. The systems starts by having a smart building or town built to be connected through small passageways. These passageways are then installed with conveyor belts system for sharing of things between the people living in the smart homes. Where these smart homes would be equipped with a delivering ‘lift’.
For instance, Kate, living in ShareTown Unit #11-09 runs out of butter at home, she posts a request for butter on the ShareTown app stating that she needs them for dinner tonight. Tom, who lives at #09-07 happens to have spare butter at home. So he places them in the delivering container and it goes through the passageways and then gets delivered to Kate. In the mean time, Tom gets paid for that half stick of butter through the app that has mobile banking as well.
As such, the system creates less wastage for perishables and improved connections within the neighbourhood. Both parties gets fulfilled and the system recreates the idea of Kampung Spirit with a little touch of technology.