State blockchain and 5G part of Singapore’s smart cities plan

27 Jun 2019

Raffles Square, Singapore. Image: © manjik/

Singapore’s new grand vision for a smart city state includes blockchain services and heavy investment in 5G.

Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has announced a series of big investments that aim to change Singapore’s position as a city state to one that can be considered the first ‘smart city state’.

At the Innovfest Unbound conference today (27 June), the country’s minister for communications and information, S Iswaran, announced that along with Singapore’s National Research Foundation, IMDA has set aside S$40m to build an ‘open and inclusive’ 5G ecosystem. This will support 5G technology trials for enterprise, a series of national testbeds, and further R&D in the telecoms standard, particularly in cybersecurity.

As a start, IMDA said it will explore clusters such as maritime operations, urban mobility, smart estates, industry 4.0, consumer applications and government applications.

A number of industry partnerships are already underway, including national telecoms players Singtel and M1, which will look to see how 5G can be rolled out in Singapore’s port to increase productivity, a vital artery in the country’s international trade.

‘Transformation to an advanced digital economy’

IMDA has also awarded a total of S$1.5m to eight projects under what it calls a ‘smart estates’ initiative, an effort to create smart city nodes depending on the needs of a particular neighbourhood. These efforts include a ‘digital twin’ that can project real-time local updates on to an accurate 3D image of the estate, with information provided through a multitude of internet of things (IoT) sensors.

Singapore is also looking to make itself one of the leading cities when it comes to creating a united digital government ecosystem through blockchain. As part of this, IMDA launched a public consultation on a review of its proposed Electronic Transactions Act (ETA). The ETA would include enabling property transactions, wills and other legal documents as well as using distributed ledgers to create smart contracts and for the storage of biometric data.

Tan Kiat How, IMDA’s chief executive, said this is part of Singapore’s “urgent efforts to digitalise, to be relevant and competitive”.

He added: “IMDA’s new multi-pronged, collaborative initiatives announced today, addressing infrastructure, legislation and other challenges, will further complement our existing efforts to accelerate Singapore’s transformation to an advanced digital economy, and I encourage all organisations to participate in these programmes.”

Disclosure: The journalist’s trip to Singapore was provided by the Infocomm Media Development Authority.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic