Vivian Balakrishnan: The Government has to up its game in terms of security for national projects rolled out by the Smart Nation initiative

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Using technology to send help to the elderly in emergencies and to prevent drownings in swimming pools are just some of the latest trial projects under Singapore’s Smart Nation push, said Minister-in-charge of Smart Nation initiative Vivian Balakrishnan on Tuesday, October 9.

Minister Balakrishnan commented that the Government “definitely has to up its game in terms of security” for national projects being rolled out by the Smart Nation initiative.

 

The first pilot project is a personal alert button set-up for the elderly, which they can use to call for help in emergency situations, such as when they suffer a fall and cannot move. Minister Balakrishnan said that the personal alert button is light, cost-effective, easy-to-use and a necessity for our elderly citizens.

The second project the government is rolling out is technology-backed computer vision to help detect people drowning in pools, which is being tested under the Smart Nation Sensor Platform by Sport Singapore.

The technology will also be used for continuous surveillance and should alert the lifeguards in situations of emergency, said Minister Balakrishnan.

A year-long trial of the computer vision drowning detection system started in December of last year at Hougang Swimming Complex. Sport Singapore promised details of the trial period when it ends.

The third national project under the Smart Nation Initiative is a push for electronic payments, which Minister Balakrishnan said is to “reduce transaction costs”.

Current initiatives like the common SGQR code and promoting PayNow to both Government and private sector via PayNow Corporate are steps in the right direction.

Minister Balakrishnan also cited another effort: account-based ticketing, which uses contactless debit and credit cards to pay for train or bus fares, which will be rolled out next year.

“Queuing up to top up cards should be made redundant”, Minister Balakrishnan said.

The fourth project under the Smart Nation banner is smart urban mobility, which encompasses the expansion of public trials for autonomous shuttles on Sentosa island and the six-month trial of on-demand public buses starting from this December, projects that the government has been working on.

Another upcoming initiative under this project is the testing of hands-free ticketing technology for payments on public buses, which is expected to happen later this year.

The hands-free ticketing technology removes the need for commuters to tap their EZ-Link card at the fare gates through the use of a Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) card or a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone with a dedicated application.

It is already undergoing a six-month trial at four MRT stations, according to LTA and ST Engineering.

The fifth national project the government is working on is the Moments of Life (MOL) project. Minister Balakrishnan said that there have been more than 10,000 downloads of the Moments of Life (Families) app since it was released at the end of June.

Minister Balakrishnan said that more than 500 parents have used the app’s online birth registration feature.

The app is citizen-centric and focuses on what user really need. Parents’ feedback was to have the function to search for institutions that accept the use of the Child Development Account (CDA) funds, and the app added this new feature.

There are plans in place to provide similar apps for different life stages and needs, he said, such as in the event of people’s deaths, but there are no details on that as of the moment.

Minister Balakrishnan also talked about upcoming developments for Singapore’s National Digital Identity (NDI) system, including the launch of SingPass Mobile later this month.

SingPass Mobile, he said, will bring another layer of security as users should be able to use their mobile phones’ biometric authentication such as fingerprints or facial recognition to log into government services through the SingPass service.

Minister Balakrishnan said that security has to be “baked into the roll-out of digital services” as a mindset that the public sector has to adopt.