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Singapore plans to be world's first 'Smart Nation'

The city-state unveils plans for sensors that can help manage traffic congestion, detect air pollutants, and even remind you to take your trash out.

Aloysius Low Senior Editor
Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Aloysius Low
2 min read

The Jurong Lake District in Singapore will be used as a trial area for Singapore's ambitious Smart Nation plan. Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore

SINGAPORE -- A new plan that aims to turn Singapore into the world's first "Smart Nation" was unveiled by the island state's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) at the opening of the CommunicAsia trade show here today.

Trials will begin soon in the Jurong Lake District, a new urban hub about 40 minutes from the city center. Above-ground boxes connected to fiber-optic lines will be deployed across the country at street lights or bus stops.

These new boxes can be hooked up to sensors that can detect air pollutants, heavy rainfall or traffic jams. One particularly Singaporean idea is for sensors that can report how full rubbish bins are, paired with cameras that can detect litter -- and remind litterbugs to pick up their trash.

Given's the country's tiny land mass -- not much bigger than the city of San Francisco -- it sounds more like a smart city. But while the scenario sounds tailor-made for a happy civic society, privacy remains a concern, as does funding. An IDA spokesperson said that consultations will have to take place to discuss how such data will be protected and used.

Singapore has already laid the groundwork for the Smart Nation plan -- fiber Internet is available to most households in the country, with super-fast 1Gbps service (similar to that offered by Google Fiber) costing as little as S$50 ($40, £25, AU$42) per month.

One of the key features announced will be of interest to folks who live in modern cities -- Singapore intends to use the deployment of the sensor boxes to set up wireless hotspots for a heterogeneous network, allowing phones and tablets to switch seamlessly between mobile data and Wi-Fi.

Singapore has also set aside spectrum to create new Super Wi-Fi networks, which have greater range and coverage but a lower power requirement compared to standard Wi-Fi. The network will also be used to transmit Smart Nation data.