Smart tech industry continues to grow in Singapore

Smart tech industry continues to grow in Singapore

Singapore’s goal of becoming a Smart Nation has made it one of the most exciting examples of innovative urban architecture and infrastructure. From island-wide 5G to artificial intelligence (AI) managed retail stores, a huge number of initiatives have focused on achieving progress using new technologies. As well as this, a growing amount of research and development (R&D) into digitalisation has meant new ideas are created regularly, which combined with the government and private sector’s focus on smart technology, have meant the island has become a regional powerhouse for digital innovation.

In 2019, the government in Singapore pledged to spend 1% of annual GDP on smart tech research and development, as part of its Research, Innovation and Enterprise plan (RIE 2020.) One aspect of this that is underway is their National Digital Identity project (NDI), which aims to store a centralised biometric information system of Singapore citizens, including fingerprint and iris scans and facial and voice records. Another innovation is its unified QR code payment systems, which connects with multiple payment schemes, from GrabPay to NETS, creating a national e-payment system which can be used in hawker centres, canteens and coffee shops all over the city.

As part of the RIE 2020 plan, the government is also rolling out an autonomous vehicle infrastructure system, paving the way for self-driving cars to form part of the country’s transport network. The first self-driving car was approved for road testing in 2015, and since then, private companies have collaborated with the government, with the startup nuTonomy testing on Singapore’s roads in 2016. More recently, an autonomous shuttle bus has been moving students at Nanyang Technological University over a 500 metre route - and has been successfully moving up to 300 people every day. Huge leaps have been made in this AI technology in the last five years, and this is set to continue into the future.

As well as the country’s famous fintech ecosystem, the government is aiming to grow the startup economy of Singapore. In particular, it aims to create an artificial intelligence (AI) hub on the island, by creating a data science consortium and by investing a large amount into an AI research and development program. As part of this, they have also created national AI training schemes, which allow 12,000 Singaporeans to grow new and highly sought after tech skills over the next three years. Not only will this increase global private sector interest into the country, but it will also help to move Singapore along to its Smart Nation goals, by innovating new smart technologies which can be rolled out island-wide.

The increase in e-commerce demand has caused brick-and-mortar stores to suffer in Singapore over the past few years. However, the use of AI is a great way to counteract this and boost the city’s retail economy. While e-commerce stores are able to significantly track customers, spending habits and to analyse shopping trends, if the ability to do this is made possible in physical shops, it will give more power back into the hands of traditional-style shopkeepers.

The use of inbuilt smart tech in stores can provide accurate and real-time information about customers, enabling managers to track conversion rates, campaign effectiveness and staff efficiency. AI computer vision technology can track footfall and therefore capture customer demographics in order to optimise marketing campaigns, shop inventory and preferences. The benefits of online retail are brought into an offline space.

Over the past ten years, the smart tech industry in Singapore has come along in huge leaps and bounds. In addition to this, the focus on new AI innovations, with a huge commitment to funding new developments, means there’s no doubt the industry will continue to grow in the years to come. Singapore has been highly effective in problem-solving using the capabilities of this growing technology, and in the near future we may see offline, brick-and-mortar retail stores giving e-commerce shops a run for their money, autonomous vehicles on the city’s streets and a growing AI industry that could make Singapore a global leader in tech innovation.