Singapore preps open digital platform for major greenfield smart city development
Singapore’s industrial development agency JTC has appointed engineering group ST Engineering to build an open smart city platform for its green-field Punggol Digital District (PDD) project, a new tech hub in the north of the city-state, being constructed as a showcase for its Smart Nation effort.
PDD is a multi-agency collaboration, also involving the Singapore Institute of Technology and Urban Redevelopment Authority. The memorandum of understanding with ST Engineering has been described as “the first step” towards bringing new partners into the platform’s development.
JTC and ST Engineering will invest equally in the platform, they said.
The Punggol Digital District, imagined as a 50-hectare campus for technological research and innovation, is being being built from scratch as an integrated smart-city concept, created by extending the existing Punggol’s town centre towards the waterfront.
The site, bookending Singapore’s ‘North Coast Innovation Corridor’, will open from 2023, and create around 28,000 new jobs in the fields of cyber-security, data analytics, artificial intelligence and the ‘internet of things’.
Unlike most urban development work, the Punggol project will see the integration of digital infrastructure from the ground up. The new digital platform will integrate various smart city solutions, including for facilities management, district cooling, pneumatic waste conveyancing, autonomous goods delivery, access and security, carparks, traffic lights, and autonomous vehicles.
This will enable all district operations to be centralised for management, said ST Engineering. Estate managers will be able to take advantage of predictive analytics to optimise and control resources. The platform will also tap into Singapore’s Smart Nation Sensor Platform, enabling wider sharing of sensor data, to improve planning and delivery of public services.
ST Engineering said the platform will afford energy savings for businesses and residents in the district, and also allow for residential innovations such as biometric access to facilities for tenants, and smartphone access for visitors.
Data from the platform – ranging from information about “utilisation of facilities, electricity consumption to even equipment breakdown information from estate and building management systems” – will be made available to academics, enterprises and entrepreneurs to develop new urban solutions for the region.
A digital twin of the entire district will be made available for contributors to do safe testing of solutions before deploying them. The ‘open digital platform’ will be rolled out to other districts subsequently.
Ng Lang, chief executive at JTC, said: “Besides making our work more efficient, we hope it can also enhance the convenience and experience of people working in the district. Businesses, workers, researchers, students and the general public, innovators can plug in to the platform to access and use the data and analytics to develop solutions that will benefit the community.”
ST Engineering claims to have implemented more than 500 smart city projects, covering mobility, security and environmental solutions, across 70 cities. “We are well aware that a digital district is not just about technology,” said Vincent Chong, the company’s president and chief executive.
“It is about integrating technologies to connect people in ways that can best address urban challenges and transform user experiences. This partnership is also part of our smart city drive to contribute to Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.”
Singapore topped a recent study by McKinsey Global Institute of the leading smart cities in the world, based on their embedded tech infrastructure and their on-paper tech potential. It also featured in sixth on a parallel list by McKinsey that ranked global cities according to their live smart-city applications, and the volume of smart city actiivty.
The challenge of integrating civic functions and technoloies in a single open digital platform is a feature of the developing smart city narrative. US tech giant Cisco has come up with a so-called ‘platform-of-platforms’ as part of its work in Manchester in the UK, which is says solves all of the technological issues, but remains in beta as the prublic and private sectors thrash out new commercial models for smart-city procurement.