Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Singapore opens laboratory to test smart city innovations

Steve Rogerson
February 11, 2015
Singapore has set up a laboratory to test smart city innovations. Run by National Computer Systems (NCS), the principal IT provider to the Singapore government, Surf@NCS is part of its Solutions for Urbanised Future (Surf) initiative.
Surf@NCS is for use by public agencies and commercial enterprises to create and test-bed smart city innovations in the areas of education, healthcare, transport and public safety. The aim is to grow an ecosystem of like-minded partners for smart city development, starting with 15 global technology players, local start-ups and research institutes.
“We are committed to accelerate our development of intellectual property and smart city solutions to help improve the lives of citizens,” said Chia Wee Boon, chief executive officer of NCS. “Through Surf@NCS, we aim to partner best-of-breed technology providers to build a vibrant eco-system where we can co-create solutions to enhance essential government services and deliver game-changing enterprise innovations.”
This year, it wants to train up to 120 people in delivering and implementing smart products and services.
“Pivotal to this is the availability of skilled talents,” said Chia. “NCS will train up to 120 professionals primarily for smart city development this year. This augments the Singtel Cadet Scholarship Programme and Asia Pacific Cyber Security Competency Centre to build a pipeline of talents for the future.”
At this week’s opening, NCS announced that it had signed collaboration agreements with Cisco, A*Star’s Institute for Infocomm Research and Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD) to explore smart city innovations.
The launch of Surf@NCS follows the announcement of a strategic partnership between Singtel and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) last year to drive digital innovation, spur partnerships and build capabilities in cyber security, smart cities and analytics.
“The establishment of Surf@NCS will catalyse partnerships among leading local and foreign companies for the co-development of digital solutions in Singapore,” said Beh Swan Gin, chairman of the EDB. “As a leading ICT solutions provider anchored in Singapore, NCS will also play a key role in training and equipping employees and students with new capabilities, so that Singaporeans can play a role in building our smart nation.”
The laboratory has been set up to provide an environment conducive for organisations to hold ideation workshops and test various technologies, applications and proof-of-concepts. It also serves as a lab for NCS to develop intellectual property (IP) and smart city innovations. The first IP being introduced is ISC – an intelligent command and control platform – designed to solve problems in situations involving multiple agencies. The proprietary platform was tested in Little India last year, under the Safety & Security Industry Programme Office, established by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the EDB. The outcome was a demonstration that the ISC platform helped improve situational awareness and operational efficiency.
To start, 15 partners have committed to collaborate with NCS in technology areas such as fog computing, IoT and critical infrastructure management. Among them are global companies such as Bosch, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft and Samsung and specialised technology providers such as Hope Technik, KAI Square, Mitsubishi, Polycom, Quantum Inventions, WEB Biotechnology-Spyder and Worldlabel-Parata. NCS is also working with tertiary institutions such as SUTD and Temasek Polytechnic to build smart campuses and future teaching tools.
This year, NCS intends to recruit up to 120 professionals to be trained as enterprise architects, product engineers, data scientists and subject matter experts for the implementation of smart cities. In partnership with the Institute of Infocomm Research (I2R), a programme will be introduced to nurture experts in data science and analytics.
Moving forward, NCS aims to work with government agencies and commercial enterprises to identify challenges, prototype ideas and deploy smart city services that will impact the lives of citizens for the better.