8 Strategic National Projects Paving the Way to Make Singapore a Smart Nation

Singapore Smart Nation
Singapore Smart Nation

Few countries do megaprojects quite like Singapore does. The country already has a massive list of projects and long-term policy decisions that have gone on to become positive examples, not just for Southeast Asia but also for superpowers like the United States and China. Continually exceeding the world’s expectations, Singapore has reached a point where it would be more surprising to see it adhere to conventional practices and just do what everyone else does.

In the digital age, Singapore’s collective resolve to be at the forefront of innovation is underscored by eight Strategic National Projects that promise to transform the city-state into a smart nation and maintain its global edge over the next decade. These diverse policies, identified and codified by the Smart Nation Group of the Ministry of Communication and Information, are part of an ongoing process of “smartisation” that aims to take the country’s digital transformation into overdrive. Let’s briefly look at these keystone initiatives and the way they might make an already smart nation even smarter:

1. National Digital Identity 

Singapore’s National Digital Identity (NDI) initiative aims to provide citizens, residents, and businesses with a secure yet accessible digital ecosystem for online government services. Projects similar to NDI have been implemented elsewhere, but Singapore’s efforts have been characterised by their efficient and rational handling, particularly in the user experience provided by the Singpass app.

The app has been around in various forms since 2003, making it one of the earliest of its kind. It has since evolved to match the needs of various Singapore-based entities, even providing multiple methods of two-factor authentication to thwart emerging cyber threats. The one-tap access to popular government services and seamless digital signatures enabled by the system has earned it high ratings on both Google Play and the Apple Store, something that’s rather unusual for a government-issued app.

2. GoBusiness

GoBusiness is set to consolidate a variety of publicly available grant and license applications, under two websites, namely the Business Grants Portal and GoBusiness Licensing Portal, giving locally based business entities one-stop shops for government assistance. This project is part of wider efforts within the bureaucracy to eliminate red tape, saving time and boosting the country’s vaunted “innovation ecosystem”.


The Core Operations Development Environment and eXchange (CODEX) is a unique digital platform meant to boost collaboration between Singapore’s public and private sectors. The platform is specifically designed for scalability and reliability, leveraging commercial cloud services and standardising the way various users share information. When the system matures, the hope is that developers will use it to build easily adaptable applications for both personal and institutional use within Singapore.

4. Electronic Payments

Singapore’s electronic payments (E-payments) initiative has been in progress for over a decade, with the FAST (Fast and Secure Transfers) launch in 2014 serving as its first milestone. The various government offices tasked with this project have since gone on to make several improvements in the country’s E-payment experience, stimulating the country’s digital economy in the process. Today, the initiative is widely regarded to be a runaway success, given the remarkable ubiquity of e-payments in Singapore.

5. LifeSG

Initially launched as Moments of Life in June 2018, the LifeSG app is now a gateway to one of the most successful government e-platforms of its kind, connecting Singapore citizens and residents to over 40 government services and growing. The popularity and security of the app have also seen over 50 private organisations use it as an authentication gateway. Additional services are also constantly being added through the app, making it a vital part of contemporary life in SG.

6. Punggol Smart Town

The Punggol Digital District (PDD), Singapore’s anticipated master-planned “smart district” will bring together academia, industry, and the wider community both physically and online. It’s one of those projects that could probably be only done in a small developed country like Singapore due to the otherwise immense challenges of incentivising major entities to uproot themselves from their historic districts to places farther away.

Once the PDD is completed, major research centres, strategic industries, and necessary talents can be located in one area, allowing for seamless interaction between the main drivers of the Singaporean innovation ecosystem. There are also plans to integrate cutting-edge recreational options into the PDD to further incentivise moves to the district.

7. Smart Nation Sensor Platform

The Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP) is set to take SG’s smartisation process even further. The SNSP is an integrated nationwide platform of sensors that are foreseen as aiding everything from water conservation to public safety. Once fully operational, the network will be able to perform diverse tasks such as detecting drowning incidents at public pools, providing real-time assistance to the mobility impaired, and providing real-time information on water leaks.

Eventually, app developers will be able to leverage the information provided by the sensors to provide a wider variety of services. Generative AI may even be used in conjunction with these sensors to provide near-instant assistance to residents in need.

8. Smart Urban Mobility

Singapore’s transportation sector has long been among the world’s most admired and the Smart Urban Mobility project is likely to secure this status for decades to come. It’s especially notable for its current explorations in the use of autonomous vehicles, but its other less-prominent forays are likely to make similarly big impacts. For instance, the pioneering moves towards smart commute management and hands-free ticketing technology may eventually become watershed moments for both transportation inclusivity and efficiency, not just in Singapore but in the rest of the world.

Making Singapore Smarter, One Project at a Time

Singapore Digital Nation

Singapore’s eight projects are notable, not just in their ambition but also in the way they are squarely focused on digital transformation. They highlight the remarkable speed of the country’s bureaucracy while also bringing to mind the decades of preparation the country has done to bring itself fully online.

Through these projects, Singapore is actively shaping a future where technology catalyses progress across all facets of society. While it isn’t the only advanced country attempting to accomplish so many major changes all at once, it may be one of the few where the interconnectedness of both human and digital systems is taken seriously. Once Singapore succeeds, these projects may again serve as templates for the rest of the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

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