Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Future Economy in A Smart City

[The Future Economy 2]

Singapore is marching towards a smart city as well as a digital city. Our Smart Nation Vision declares:

[Singapore is building the World's first Smart Nation by harnessing technology to the fullest with the aim of improving the lives of citizens,creating more opportunities, and building stronger communities.] ^1

Many government departments, for example, URA, HDB, LTA, IDA, etc. have also put forward their proposals for a Smart Nation. Below is just one of the examples.

Our future economy, as a city state, is linked to the digital world. IDA claims we will be the first nation in the world using and ‘harnessing technology’ in developing a smart city (= nation).    

Our future depends on our smart city planning. Mr. Heng Swee Kiat, who will be chairing the Future Economy Committee, indicates that his task is to move from a ‘value-adding’ to a ‘value-creating’ economy. He also points out five future challenges: jobs, companies, resources, technology and markets.^2

In a smart city, how can we create values for jobs, companies, resources, technology and markets? When Minister Heng talks about ‘creating’ rather than ‘adding’ values, it looks like we are doing some things different from the past. But how different?

'Adding values' seem to be an easier job, for example, bringing in foreign workers, building casinos, giving tax incentives to foreign companies, etc. 'Creating values' will need innovations and making things from nothing, more risks, more freedom, transparency and democracy.  Wow!

Can the same old political structure of one-party rule still be relevant in the future economy?

Professor Dominique Boullier of Sciences Po Paris outlines a smart city model which involves certainties and uncertainties; attachment and detachment.  There are four components in the model: Good Old, Smart, Data and Wiki city.

Screenshot 2015-11-03 16.21.07.png

GE2015 suggests Singaporeans prefer to remain in ‘certainties’ - from Good old city to Smart city.  However, we also prepare to move from ‘Attachments’ to ‘Detachment’. ‘Gold old city’ model is very much a colonial model and SG50 is part of it. Singapore still feels comfortable to work under  ‘models’. We will use all the latest technology, research and consultancy to develop our smart city model.

But to create more values to the economy, we will have to move away from ‘certainties’. This means there is no suitable models, or
no model at all under Data City and Wiki City. You create values from big data which has no previous pattern or need to share information in a crowd.  The information and media control in Singapore will pose a challenge in these two sub-components.

Perhaps, we are only happy to achieve 70% coverage of the jobs and market - controlling all components of ‘certainties’ models and some components of ‘uncertainties’ models.  Is this the future economy of Singapore - a smart city flying with 60% or 70% capacity?


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