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    May 28, 2014

    Start walking now, an empty bus is coming

    IMAGINE a travel-planning app which can tell you how crowded the trains or buses are.

    Based on your location and distance from the train station or bus stop, the same app will advise you on what time to leave home to catch your desired ride, calculated from your walking speed.

    This is an example of how in a smart nation, such as the one envisioned by the Government for Singapore, data can be provided to citizens to help them make meaningful, informed choices.

    The Infocomm Development Authority's (IDA's) managing director, Jacqueline Poh, said yesterday that the Government will leverage on new technologies to come up with solutions to improve the quality of life.

    Using data analytics the way Amazon does, for example, services that Singaporeans need can be rolled out even before they are demanded.

    Meanwhile, the Singapore Police Force is already looking to procure facial recognition software that will assist it to quickly search for people through photo and video feeds.

    The Ministry of Home Affairs also announced yesterday that it intends to call a tender for a simulation programme to train front-line officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force in road traffic-accident rescues.

    Other examples to perk up daily life include the use of artificial intelligence in knowledge management, experiments in autonomous vehicles for urban mobility and the test-bedding of digital health at home to cater for an ageing population.

    The ultimate aim will be "citizen-centric service delivery", said Ms Poh, who was speaking at IDA's annual industry briefing on infocomm initiatives for the public sector.

    "We think there is room to improve application interfaces and create a more enjoyable user experience," she said, adding that services and applications put out to the public should be as "effortless" to use as Instagram or Twitter.

    Projects such as the eCitizen Ideas! portal were created using the agile development method, meaning that it was launched in the beta phase and continues to be enhanced based on user feedback.

    Yesterday, IDA said that $1.2 billion worth of infocomm tenders will be called for financial year 2014, in areas such as cyber security, infrastructure, data analytics and mobile services.

    More than 90 per cent of these will have a procurement value of less than $5 million, which will enable smaller companies to take part, said Chan Cheow Hoe, assistant chief executive of IDA and the government chief information officer.

    Mr Chan said that IDA will look into "co-sourcing models" where the industry will partner the Government to develop capabilities and co-create solutions.

    The idea of a smart nation was put forth by President Tony Tan Keng Yam during his May 16 address to open the second session of the 12th Parliament.

    Dr Tan said: "We will make Singapore a Smart Nation: enabling safer, cleaner and greener urban living, more transport options, better care for the elderly at home; more responsive public services and more opportunities for citizen engagement."