Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently stated at the inaugural Singapore Summit that for Singapore to continue on its growth trajectory, the country has to evolve into a smart city.
In fact, it’s not only a challenge for Singapore but also for other cities around the world. Today, cities contain 50% of the world’s population, consume 75% of global energy and give off 80% of greenhouse gas emissions.
With increasing urbanisation, cities will house 70% of the world’s population by 2050 – this will certain cause a significant strain on resources and hence, sustainability.
Evolving to a smart city will give Singapore many capabilities to compete in the face of these challenges, even as the population grows to reach the target of 6 million residents set by the government. It will help the country manage growth in a controlled way, and give three fold benefits.
Firstly, we will see a more efficient city, and improved resiliency of the city’s systems – such as public transport, electricity and public services – to any disruption. Second, we will have a more sustainable city, leading to lower operational costs as a result of optimized energy consumption, and a decreased need for massive infrastructure investments.
Additionally, the first two benefits will also translate into a higher quality of life for residents, increasing competitiveness and the ability to attract and retain a new generation of talent.
So, having explored the benefits, what are the areas in which cities – Singapore included – should be looking at improving in order to become smart? Here are some of the areas which we at Schneider Electric believe will be key in creating a smart city:
Smart Buildings – As the population continues on its growth trajectory, so will the demand for housing and buildings. Making residential buildings smart will improve the quality of life, while for commercial office buildings it can also increase employee productivity, generate energy savings of up to 30%, reduce carbon emissions and meet assessment criteria from certification schemes like the BCA Green Mark.
Our solutions such as building management systems as well as energy and carbon dashboards can help building owners monitor consumption by the minute, for better management of energy usage, costs, and carbon footprint.
Smart Water – Demand for clean, affordable water is growing along with urban populations as water is needed not only for drinking, but also for commercial and industrial purposes. Even Singapore, which has a very high quality water supply, has to continue maintaining this while catering to a growing populace.
Hence, cities need to optimize water operations, management and planning to meet the growing demand for this critical resource. They can do so with smart water solutions, provided by companies like Schneider Electric, that can help manage and optimise the water network, identify and reduce water wastage in real time, as well as respond to urban floods that could take out the city’s transportation network.
Smart Energy Grid – The smart grid is all about creating the capability for electricity demand and supply to interact intelligently, and integrate intermittent renewable generation. With the smart grid, cities like Singapore will be able to generate energy savings, reduce related emissions and enhance the quality of service to residential, commercial and industrial buildings.
Smart Mobility – As urban population increases, the entire transportation network – be it public or private – will be affected by increasing congestion, safety and breakdown issues which can delay commuters, burn up valuable fuel, and harm the environment.
Even in countries like Singapore with one of the region’s most effective public transport networks, population growth is affecting the capacity of the transport system. Companies such as Schneider Electric are already taking proactive steps to work with city planners, implementing traffic and mobility management solutions which reduce congestion and improve traffic flow as well as ensure the efficient operation of the transportation network.
At the same time, we are also enthusiastically supporting the push for electric vehicles with charging infrastructure solutions which will help spur adoption.
Smart Public Services – Services such as video monitoring and emergency coordination ensure citizen well-being and safety, while digital services improve the management of education, healthcare, government administration, and tourism. The quality of public services in a city plays an important role in making the city a desirable place to live and work, determines how attractive it is as a destination for talent to migrate to, and subsequently affects its competitiveness in the global economy.
However, what makes a city really smart is how it can go beyond just optimising the performance of individual systems as described above, but also integrate all these systems in order to share information amongst the various city departments as well as with city residents.
This then requires a new model based on collaboration between the government, private investors, industry suppliers, utilities, planners and developers, with people and communities at the center of discussion. Engaging all stakeholders and helping them understand the benefits will be crucial in enabling cities to become smarter.
As the world wonders how to meet the growing demand for energy and resources, while needing to reduce global carbon emissions, one thing is clear – the energy challenge will be won or lost in cities.
By delivering urban efficiency through solutions to cities' immediate challenges, integration for increased efficiency and innovation for a holistic sustainable future and collaboration, we here at Schneider Electric believe that smart cities can become a reality in the near future.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Asian Power. The author was not remunerated for this article.
Do you know more about this story? Contact us anonymously through this link.
Willie Chan is part of the core strategy team that works closely with Schneider Electric's Country Presidents and Strategy Partners in the formulation and execution of the countries' strategy campaign. Willie specializes in the areas of Energy and Environment and scans the horizons for technologies and concepts related to Smart Cities and Smart Grids, Energy Visualization, Electric Vehicles, and other Clean-tech areas.