What makes Singapore a smart city?

After 32 years, I visited Singapore, which is marking the 2018 France-Singapore Year of Innovation, and was impressed by the city and new buildings.

I tried to figure out the reasons that make Singapore a smart city.

Singapore is a dynamic business hub for South-East Asia.

This year, it assumes the chairmanship of Asean and launched the Asean Smart Cities Network in May.

It has devised a climate action package with solutions relying on natural gas, which produces 90 per cent of local electricity, sound waste management, energy efficiency and the introduction of a carbon tax.

At the World Cities Summit in July, Singapore brought together for the first time the representatives of 26 cities from the Asean Smart Cities Network to share their expertise on greenhouse gas reduction and lead reflections on a framework project that will be submitted for approval on the occasion of the 33rd Asean Summit in November.

The stunning success of Singapore's environment policy in public hygiene, cleanliness and mobility can be credited to the National Environment Agency.

The certificate of entitlement helps limit the national car pool, public transport is safe and efficient and Bollore's electric car-sharing service BlueSG is working.

The buildings are becoming low in energy consumption and smart in that they use more digital technologies. Does the sum of smart buildings make a smart city?

The question is whether Singapore's ultimate goal is to be smart or responsive, that is, tailored to the aspirations of citizens.

These two concepts are not in opposition to each other.

The fact that these policies are meant to be sustainable and are funded by the Government brings up questions about the relevance of the use of the best technology and being accountable to Singaporeans.

Singapore is a small, cosmopolitan, experimental lab that is well endowed with human, financial, technological and academic resources, and that aspires to become a world reference. Its leadership and experience are most instructive for the 2018 France-Singapore Year of Innovation.

Louis Boisgibault

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2018, with the headline 'What makes Singapore a smart city?'. Print Edition | Subscribe