Inside the nervous system of a Smart Nation
By Ang Soo Keong, Executive Manager, Smart Nation Platform Solutions
A Smart Nation means using technology to make better decisions; better decisions mean a better quality of life for everyone. A better quality of life could mean a Singapore that is resilient, sustainable, and liveable.
Integrating physical infrastructure with digital technologies is key to achieving this vision. The digitalisation of physical infrastructure such as buildings, roads, lampposts, parks, and other public spaces will usher in cyber-physical infrastructure — the bedrock of our Smart Nation.
By embedding sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices in our physical infrastructure, we can collect information from our physical environment, translate it into digital data, and extract intuitive insights such as historical trends, real-time updates, and help us plan for future scenarios. These insights allow public officers to deliver better public services to citizens.
As the Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP) team, we are the driving force behind the efforts to digitalise our physical infrastructure. We provide the technologies to manage over thousands of sensors and other connected devices and infrastructure.
With so many physical assets across the country, how do we ensure they do not unexpectedly go offline and disrupt critical citizen services? What’s more, how can we, beyond maintenance, make better use of the data to deliver more useful applications in the future?
To ensure our Smart Nation runs smoothly, our team set up the Smart Nation Operations Centre (SNOC). The SNOC is a 24/7 one-stop service for government agencies who leverage SNSP’s technologies operational support. These technologies include:
· Smart lampposts; they collect sensor data and perform analytics and are currently deployed at One-North and Geylang.
· SPOTON smart thermal scanners; our team developed SPOTON during the COVID-19 pandemic to streamline temperature scanning for large crowds.
· The Wireless Alert Alarm System (Wireless AAS); these buttons have been installed in the homes of seniors living in 53 one-room rental blocks across Singapore to provide emergency assistance to elderly residents.
· Integrated Video Sharing Grid (IVSG); this facilitates live video sharing between agencies without having to establish bilateral connections.
· SenseOps; a visual dashboard that supports COVID-19 operations and provides situational awareness on the ground.
· Asynchronous Data Exchange (ADEX)); it provides central exchange services to distribute real-time sensor data across different network zones.
· SafeEntry Gateway (SEGW); an alternative COVID-19 cluster-detection solution that allows individuals to check in and check out effortlessly into SafeEntry mandated premises.
As the team managing SNOC, we monitor all these services and escalate incidents that need further support. This involves recording and assigning priority to incidents, handling technical queries on SNSP products and services, and monitoring incident resolution progress with government agencies.
At SNOC, we respond to a wide range of issues — some require on-site attention, while others can be resolved remotely.
For example, when a high-temperature alarm on a smart lamppost — Lamppost-as-a-Platform (LaaP) — is triggered, SNOC will receive an automated alert. From here, we can assess the situation and send a field engineer to provide on-site support if necessary.
At the other end of the spectrum, we are also able to resolve technical queries remotely for services such as SPOTON.
To ensure all these different services run smoothly around-the-clock, our team has put in place rigorous service standards and operational protocols. As we continue our Smart Nation journey, we also seek to streamline our processes even further.
We aim to play more than a traditional troubleshooting role at an operations centre; our goal is to become a key enabler in digitalising public services. We are always on the lookout for technologies we can adopt to automate more processes and generate insights more intuitively.
One such technology is a digital twin. A digital twin refers to a 3D digital world that replicates our physical one and contains real-time information from the deployed sensors. Digital twins bridge the physical and digital worlds by integrating a variety of datasets in large volume (such as geospatial, building information, and sensor data) to create a real-time digital replica of a real-world environment or facility. In our next blog article, find out how digital twins in smart districts help decision-makers augment their awareness of on-ground situations.
Ultimately, we expect SNOC to continue evolving to play an even more important role in Smart Nation. We are only at the first step of our journey thus far. Citizens expect seamless public service in their daily lives, and our role at SNOC is to provide the operational excellence that will keep a Smart Nation running. This is a mission that will become increasingly important in the coming years.
Find out more about GovTech’s technical products and solutions on Singapore Government Developer Portal