This past week I was in Singapore to support our Hitachi and Hitachi Data Systems customers. Since I am also the chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Data Storage Institute of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, I took the opportunity to visit the DSI management for an update on their direction and plans.
In my meetings I communicate Hitachi’s strategic direction for social innovation, which is to use Information Technology and Operational Technology to build a healthier, safer, and smarter society. That is the same goal for Singapore under their strategy for Smart Nation. Singapore is a nation state of 5.5 million people living on an island of 694 sq. km. The population density is 8000 people per sq. km compared to the US at 35 per sq. km! With one of the world’s highest urban densities, an aging population, and no natural resources, you can understand why Singapore is motivated to leverage technology to create not just a smart city but also a smart nation.
In fact Singapore is considered to be in the forefront of building smart cities. IDC recently announced the winners of the “AP Smart City Evolution Index competition (Asia Pacific –excluding Japan), following its launch in July of 2014. This index was based on 14 smart city services and Singapore emerged as the big winner, topping four categories: Transportation, Land use and Environmental Management, Education, and Smart Water.
Singapore also has a relation ship with Denmark, which is another leader in moving to Smart Nation. While Denmark is planning to be the first carbon neutral nation by 2050; their largest city, Copenhagen, plans to be carbon neutral by 2025. Driven by this common interest, Singapore and Denmark met last November to exchange ideas on smart city solutions and explore ways to collaborate to benefit both nations. The cities of Singapore and Copenhagen are very similar in area, 694 sq. km versus 711 sq. km, but Copenhagen has less than half the population of Singapore at 2.2 million. Topics included harnessing the power of big data intelligent mobility, smart energy management and urban planning.
Hitachi is partnering with the city of Copenhagen, CLEAN, a Danish clean-tech cluster, and a consortium of partners to create an open city data exchange platform to help them achieve their goal for carbon neutrality by 2025. The aim is to establish a city-wide marketplace for the sale and purchase of data between all types of users, including academia, public sector, large enterprises, SME, start ups, and individual app developers. This will be the first time that public data and private data will be integrated into a single solution that can be accessed by anyone to meet the challenges of sustainability and quality of life. This will help insure that smart city projects do not create silos of data and information. With a city data exchange, power, transportation, water, sanitation, environmentalist, etc., can all work together and create synergies that will accelerate the transition to a carbon neutral city. In addition to reducing carbon consumption, businesses can benefit from using this data to optimize their operations and better serve their customers. Some examples may be the location of a restaurant, based on foot traffic in the area, or stocking certain items based on projections for changes in weather or demographics. By making this data exchange available for a fee, they encourage crowd sourcing of smart city solutions.
Many cities are embarking on smart city initiatives. There may be multiple projects going on at the same time that are not coordinated. Both Copenhagen and Singapore seem to be able to coordinate their smart city initiatives. Copenhagen’s approach to smart city is to start with a City Data Exchange, which encourages a grounds up approach to smart city, Singapore’s Approach seems to be a top down approach through their Infocomm Development agency (IDA)’s Smart Nation Platform. This is one of the anchor initiatives that will enable everyone and everything, everywhere, to be connected all the time in Singapore. “Pervasive connectivity, along with infrastructure and common technical architecture will allow citizens, businesses and government agencies to leverage technology towards improving lives in a Smart Nation.”
Both approaches seem to be effective in building smart cities and creating social innovation. Hitachi strategy around social innovation is very complimentary to either approach.