The Future and Smart Cities

Artificial Intelligence adoption has been picking up in Singapore recently. The country has enlisted this technology to transform the lives of their citizens by upgrading their systems on a nationwide scale.

For example, Singapore will be rolling out a chatbot that their citizens can use to report any municipal issues that they may have in real-time. The AI-based chatbot will ask for more details from the user to be able to determine which government agency is best equipped to handle the complaint. This latest technology will be released in 2022.

This new service is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Aside from that, this technology will also be used to power a device that assists in detecting eye problems that are related to diabetes. It will also be used for automating English marking systems for both primary and secondary education in the same year.

More projects, involving the use of Artificial Intelligence, are in the pipeline for the next decade based on five projects that were revealed last November 23. These projects are part of the new National AI Strategy (Singapore).

Singapore as a Smart Nation

Singapore is slowly transforming itself into a Smart Nation by integrating AI into their national plans. They have several ideas already laid out for the next decade on how it will use AI to improve their lives and their economy by providing automated solutions to national issues. In fact, AI is already part of their lives through chatbots and even robo-advisors.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on the last day of the “Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) x the Singapore Week of Innovation and TECHnology (SWITCH) Conference” the new strategy that the country is planning on rolling out. The plan shows how Singapore will be tapping into AI to create programs that will not only boost the economy but also improve the lives of its citizens.

Mr. Heng said that Singapore is poised to deploy the use of AI on a national scale. He added that the government had already pledged $500 million to fund all AI activities that will be handled by the Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2020 or RIE2020 plan.

Singapore will be focusing on five national projects. These will focus on areas such as smart cities and estates, education, transport and logistics, safety and security, and healthcare. The main goal of these projects was to tap into AI as a means of addressing the challenges that the nation is facing. They are also created to provide Singaporeans social and economic benefits in the long run.

Additionally, they will be identifying more areas where the use of AI can be applied. This is in line with the country’s “iterative” plan to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of technology as well as take advantage of opportunities that are being offered through AI.

There will also be five “key enablers” that will be created in order to boost innovation of more AI technology services and adoption across the country. One of these enablers will be strengthening the partnerships as well as capabilities among the research community, the Government, and the industry for faster deployment as well as commercialization of various AI-based solutions they come up with.

Through a new National AI office, Singapore aims to be the leading company when it comes to developing as well as deploying solutions by the year 2030.

Objectives of the National AI Strategy

There are three main goals of the National AI strategy in Singapore and these are:

Singapore as a Global Hub

The country aims to be the main hub for everything AI-related from developing to test-bedding to deploying and providing solutions for everyone. They are also preparing to learn how to manage and govern the impact of the use of AI.

Use AI to Generate Economic Value

Governments, as well as businesses, will be using AI not only to generate more revenue for the country but also to transform the lives of the people.

Understand the Benefits and Limitations of AI

The community should not only understand how AI can benefit their way of living but also know its limitations. On the other hand, employees will be given the right type of competency training and tests in order to grow under an economy that is driven by the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Singapore is poised to become a world leader in the field of AI technology by 2030. They will be the leading country when it comes to developing scalable AI-based solutions in each key sector not just for their community but also businesses.

Mr. Heng put emphasis on the importance of being able to harness technology to improve both the environment and the lives of their citizens in his keynote speech at the event. He further stated that although technology and innovation are essential in solving challenges in the country and its society, there are still drawbacks. This is why the three main principles or objectives are designed to help Singapore in its goal of having better innovation as well as technology for everyone.

Aside from that, Mr. Heng also stated that they will be putting their citizens at the heart of their projects. Basically, the projects will be implemented through a human-centric approach when it is time to apply their technology. Additionally, they will ensure that employees will be trained on how to use this new technology in their respective jobs. A good example here is that by 2025, the country is aiming to provide training for basic AI coding to 25,000 professionals.

National AI Projects in the Pipeline

According to the paper on National AI Projects, the five national AI projects that are in the works will be used as a guide on how to use the investment in research for AI technology. They will also be used to generate a lead demand in order to access the right talent and capabilities. Additionally, these projects will determine how Singapore will build its digital infrastructure to support its AI innovations.

Like it was mentioned before, these are the five National AI projects that are currently in the pipeline:

Smart Cities and Estates

The use of AI in smart cities and estates can ensure more seamless as well as efficient services at the municipal level. Aside from the use of chatbots to assist citizens when they have municipal issues, there is also an ongoing plan of developing and deploying sensors as well as AI algorithms for predictive maintenance purposes in public housings by the year 2025.

A good example here is the intelligent waste management solution offered by Artificial Intelligence Technology Solutions (AITS). This system provides a more efficient way for garbage collectors to pick up trash to ensure that the bins will not be full for the entire week as part of their waste management program.

AITS, which is headquartered in Singapore, provides fully customized solutions to businesses that are in need of assistance with their intelligent process automation. They make use of Artificial Intelligence as well as innovative analytics to optimize efficiency and productivity levels for companies. By deploying sensors as well as AI-based systems that collect and analyze data, AITS can create a customized automated solution tailored for individuals and businesses.

Education

Singapore has been testing an automated marking system in English in select primary and secondary schools before it is launched next year. The technology is designed to assess students’ open-ended answers, such as in the case of essays, in order to give feedback fast, as an aid for teachers.

The country is also aiming to offer a customizable approach to learning through the use of AI. In this case, the machine assesses how students respond to activities and learning materials then suggests a step-by-step approach on how they can improve based on their individual skills. This will be done through the Student Learning Space.

Transport and Logistics

The third national AI project will be focused on smart freight planning together with the development of a data exchange platform by 2022.

Safety and Security

Another project that is in the works is in the safety and security industry. Based on their projections, Singapore may already deploy a fully automated immigration clearance service for everyone passing through their airport, especially those who will be visiting for the first time. With this AI project, travelers will be able to pass through immigration without even having to present their passports anymore.

Healthcare

With regards to healthcare, AI will also be tapped for the protection as well as management of chronic diseases. They will be rolling out the Singapore Eye LEsioN Analyser (SELENA) in order to detect any major health issues through retinal photographs. This will be rolled out for screening for diabetic retinopathy within three years.

As Mr. Heng stated in his speech, a lot of senior citizens are not fully aware that they are at risk for chronic diseases. This lack of information may put them at more risk since they are not receiving adequate medical assistance for it.

Singapore is planning on providing its people with smart healthcare using innovative technologies especially while the pandemic is ongoing. Clinics are now using virtual systems to facilitate patient care. This creates a more accessible option to their citizens especially now when it is needed the most.

AITS is contributing to the smart healthcare vision of Singapore through their SafeRange wearable device. This device records data on individuals that the wearer had close contact for easy contact tracing in the event they become positive with Covid-19. Additionally, the device sends out vibrations or makes a sound when another person wearing the same device is within range. This will inform them if they need to move further away to meet the health protocols regarding safe distance from one another.

There were other initiatives being rolled out as part of the National AI projects. Among these is the creation of an AI maker space that is geared towards assisting startups as well as small to medium-sized enterprises to get a leg up in the world of AI. The maker space will already have AI pre-built into it for makers to customize based on the kind of business they are planning to run.

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