Last year, independent rankings by Mckinsey and ABI Research both named Singapore the leading smart city in the world. In the most recent edition of its global smart city rankings, Juniper Research, also rated Singapore top in all four categories covering mobility, healthcare, safety, and productivity.
The government is pursuing innovations in public transit and has established an aggressive timeline for introducing autonomous vehicles into the city’s mobility plans by 2022.
By end 2019, Singapore intends to welcome its first air-taxi. It is already conducting a series of impending flight trials supported by the Ministry of Transport, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the Economic Development Board.
Preparing for Everything-Connected
What all these mean for the smart city-state is that it must sufficiently prepare to harness an unprecedented scale of time and location data. It will be generated from the extensive statewide usage of digital innovation and connected technologies.
Before Singapore’s Smart Nation initiatives were in place, the Singapore Land Transport Authority was already delving deeper into data analytics to understand traffic flows better and ensure more accurate bus arrival predictions.
GeoSpock, a Cambridge-based big data analytics and integration company, is looking to service the Singapore Land Authority as it starts handling extreme-scale data in real-time. "The world's population is set to grow by 2.2 billion between now and 2050, with 60% of the global population living in Asia. As a result, we anticipate this is where we will see the largest growth in the IoT and its associated sensors," said Richard Baker, chief executive officer at GeoSpock.
In a connected world, Baker noted that organizations needed new platforms. These should "support geospatial initiatives and the advancement of IoT technologies" to "uncover insights within data to inform business decisions."
To illustrate GeoSpock's role, Baker used the analogy of a personal computer’s operating system. “While we interact with applications or internet browsers in a computer environment, we don’t really think about how that app is being managed by the operating system and how it is using the resources of the machine.”
“Just like the abstract role an OS plays in a computer environment, GeoSpock operates in a similar capacity. Once installed, our software effectively collects data from a variety of different communications networks (Bluetooth, Wifi, 4G, IoT, etc.). It organizes the data so that it is de-siloed, integrated and made available for different apps and services,” he added.
Baker also emphasized that GeoSpock's database manages extreme data sizes. This became necessary about three years ago when sensors and devices started generating data in massive troves.
“At the moment, about 21 billion IoT sensors have already been deployed globally. This is forecast by Gartner to become 60 billion devices by 2022. By 2030, it accelerates to between 3 and 4 trillion devices and IoT sensors. Those 60 billion devices in 2022 will generate about 54 exabytes of data a year, which is huge.”
Technology to Solve Technology Problems
So, what happens when technologies don’t work? The answer is also technology.
“Not being able to ask the questions of what went wrong is a problem that exists on a huge scale today. People are still sitting on legacy database technology that is not yet ready for this scale of data,” said Baker.
“The point is, if you can’t measure it, you can’t do anything about it. The challenge is to make all the data collected, organized, searchable, and dynamic within a second.”