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Singapore's IDA Preps HetNet RFP

Robert Clark
News Analysis
Robert Clark

Singapore is a ‘fine’ city, goes the well-worn joke about the buttoned-down South-East Asian republic, where even using your neighbor's Wi-Fi can incur a penalty.

Now the government is harnessing urban smart technology to crack down on the scourges of illicit smoking and parking: Two of the apps on its just-launched trial sensor network are using video and analytics to catch people smoking and parking in the wrong place.

They are part of the initial stage of the government's 'Smart Nation Platform,' which combines the machine-to-machine (M2M) sensor network, a wireless HetNet, big data analytics, and the existing high-speed NBN (national broadband network).

Infrastructure for the project will be wholly government-funded and managed, led by the telecom regulator and industry development body, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) . As the IDA puts it, the platform will enable "greater pervasive connectivity, better situational awareness through data collection, and efficient sharing of collected sensor data."

Grace Chiang, an IDA spokesperson, said it would take three to five years to roll out.

A request for proposal (RFP) for the HetNet will be issued by the end of July, and trials are likely to begin by year-end, Chiang said. The end goal is to construct a wireless network that works seamlessly, whatever the infrastructure type (cellular, WiFi, and so on), and the IDA is prepared to trial HetNet technologies that are currently still at the R&D stage.

The government expects to be able to open up 700 MHz of white space spectrum (capacity that exists between the airwaves used for digital TV) for the network.

Local operator MobileOne Ltd. (M1) (Singapore: MONE) has built a trial AG (above-ground) sensor network in the Jurong district, providing power and connectivity to the NBN.

Chiang said she couldn't provide details of the cost of the AG trial, or any other costs of the program. She says the IDA will get a better idea about costs after the trials.

In the government's previous long-term infrastructure program it spent around $1 billion Singapore dollars (US$800m) on funding the high-speed NBN rollout. (See Monopoly Practices Taint Singapore's NBN.)

The IDA is bearing the infrastructure cost for privacy and security reasons, Chiang says: To protect individual privacy, personal data would be anonymized.

But not all data will be made anonymous. The two trial apps, which are plugged into the sensor network, are explicitly aimed at identifying those who break smoking or parking regulations. Details will be passed on to enforcement agencies, although no penalties will be imposed during the trial period.

Other apps such as smart lighting are also are being run on the platform, all of them provided by government agencies.

The IDA currently has no plans to open up the platform to third parties from the private sector, although Chiang said it was "possible" in the long-term.

She said the aim of the smart nation platform was "to increase quality of life" for Singapore citizens.

— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
8/14/2014 | 12:37:58 AM
Re: I guess they have to start with something, but....
@Ray: There's something weird about this. If it just stays at innocent applications like catching parking violators, smokers; its fine. But such a system can very easily be misused and abused. I fear Minority Report. When you hold a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
R Clark
R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
7/31/2014 | 10:43:07 PM
Re: I guess they have to start with something, but....
In Singapore the the elevators in public housing estates have sensors to detect people urinating, so it's no surprise that these are the kinds of apps the govt wants to test out.

The real test is whether they can attract private players in to create apps that aren't about chivvying the population but helps make their lives easier.

Foreign Policy website has just posted about Singapore's adoption of a surveillance and information gathering system called RAHS, based on John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness program. Apparently the Singapore leaders were very impressed by TIA and have taken on Poindxter as adviser. Smart city infrastructure will almost certainly be pressed into the service of RAHS as well.


User Rank: Blogger
7/31/2014 | 10:35:52 AM
I guess they have to start with something, but....
Of all the applications to trial, collaring illicit smokers and parkers seems a tad strange.

What will be inteersting as these trials go on is to see (if we can) how the Singapore authorities use the data they collect, for town planning, emergency response, healthcare etc
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