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APAC: Building Strong Foundations to Support a “Smart Nation”

July 15, 2014

When it comes to data, the modern world is heading for a ‘perfect storm’. Data generation, collection and analysis are combining to create opportunities never seen before. On both business and personal fronts, life is becoming very different.

For the past few years, the IT industry has been abuzz with topics like Big Data and, more recently, the Internet of Things (IoT). Both involve the collection of vast amounts of data that can be used to gain insight into everything from business workflows and processes to social trends. Supporting these massive flows of data requires a complex underlying infrastructure. Without resilient networks and storage facilities in place, the enticing promise of these growing megatrends won’t be fully realised.

With this in mind, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is working on a strategy it dubs “Smart Nation”. Through this strategy, the IDA is laying the groundwork that will allow the island nation to create its own national digital ecosystem.

Much work has already been done. Following a strategy first outlined in the Intelligent Nation Masterplan (iN2015), Singapore has created a national high-speed network infrastructure that is the envy of many nations.

This has been augmented by initiatives designed to attract investment by international technology firms and to encourage the training of skilled IT professionals.

Another vital component in this mix is data centres. Data centres are the robust, reliable and scalable facilities that will house the infrastructure underpinning Singapore’s Smart Nation endeavours. Having these facilities in place, and with sufficient capacity to meet rapidly increasing future demand, is critical.

The IDA is now at work on its next 10-year plan which is focused on creating smart communities driven by “intelligence, integration, and innovation”. An integral part of this plan is the development of a Smart Nation Platform (SNP).

Once in place, the SNP will provide a common architecture that will allow data collected from myriad different sources to be harnessed by public and private-sector organisations. It will also give public agencies the ability to gain insight into the needs of citizens and better focus service delivery. The benefits to Singapore will be vast.

Meanwhile, the Infocomm Media Masterplan Steering Committee has unveiled a consultation report which outlines a vision for the infocomm and media sectors for the next 10 years. This vision comprises a range of planned initiatives including the creation of a national heterogeneous network and the installation of above-ground boxes to standardise the deployment of sensors.

The Masterplan also recommends initiatives to encourage the sustainable supply of data centres to ensure sufficient future capacity. While the report proposes underground data centres, above-ground real estate can be efficiently optimized to provide sufficient data centre capacity in Singapore for years to come. For example, by repositioning some CBD real estate and using distributed hub/spoke architecture, new above-ground data centres can provide a unique and planned overlay to a HetNet distribution topology to optimize WiMax, 4G and in-ground fibre bandwidth for the storage and distribution of content and services to corporates/consumers.

Together, these plans will help ensure Singapore retains its place as a global centre for IT development and implementation. The nation’s excellent existing infrastructure will continue to be developed to ensure it is able to support applications and services that are yet to even be imagined.

The ‘perfect storm’ we are facing is nothing to fear. Rather, it will help Singapore in its quest to become a Smart Nation – to the benefit of all its citizens.

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