Since independence in 1965, Singapore has proactively embraced technology and innovation to transform a small and resource-scarce island into a highly liveable global city state.
Starting with early computerisation efforts in the 1960s, followed by a drive to create a pool of information technology professionals in the 1980s and significant enhancements in nationwide internet connectivity over the ensuing decades, Singapore positioned itself to grasp new opportunities and make information and communications technologies (ICT) an integral part of everyday life.
A series of national masterplans since the 1980s enabled the government to guide the use of ICT to enhance Singapore’s global competitiveness, upgrade skills of its citizens and workforce, improve service standards, and attract knowledge-intensive activities. The deployment of ICT significantly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector in areas such as international trade, land use planning, land management, housing and transport.
From early innovations such as automating trade document processing to improving coordination of municipal services, the government’s suite of digital services has evolved constantly and includes interactive e-services for transactions as well as for integrating public, private and people-oriented services. Armed with a well-educated population and robust ICT infrastructure, the government envisions making Singapore the world’s first Smart Nation.
Launched in November 2014, the Smart Nation vision seeks to harness and apply digital technologies in a systemic and coordinated way to bring together the public and private sectors to improve lives and empower citizens to achieve their aspirations, bring communities closer together, and encourage businesses to innovate and grow.
The initiative’s priority areas include: using technology to support Singapore’s ageing population in receiving care where they live and in leading fulfilling lives; harnessing data to make transportation more efficient and public transport more responsive; creating more space for innovation by releasing data to the public to build applications and services, and creating testbeds to pilot new products and services.
Singapore was recognised among the top achievers in the Global Smart City Performance Index in 2017, and the government’s latest digital blueprint lays out its ambition to usher in the next digital revolution and build a digital economy and society. To succeed in an increasingly interconnected world that is being reshaped by digital disruptions, Singapore will need to remain resilient in the face of uncertainties and nurture adaptability to meet constant changes.