Singapore + Copenhagen = Smart City Fusion

To mark the 50th anniversary of close bilateral ties between Singapore and Denmark, the two countries came together to hold the first Singapore-Denmark Smart City Dialogue.
Image courtesy of the Ambassador of Denmark to Singapore

Singapore is striving to be the world’s first and leading Smart Nation, while Denmark aims to be the first carbon-neutral country in the world by 2050. Driven by a common interest to build smart and liveable cities, delegates from Singapore and Denmark exchanged ideas on smart city solutions, explored areas of synergy and worked towards possible collaborations that will benefit both countries. Topics discussed included the harnessing of big data, intelligent mobility, smart energy management and urban planning.

In the opening address, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, emphasized the importance of bilateral collaboration in achieving smart city objectives.

“Singapore has overcome many existential challenges in 50 short years to become one of the world’s most liveable city states. Our lack of natural resources and land left us with no choice but to embark on sustainable development way before it became fashionable internationally. As more than half of humanity now lives in cities, there will be a growing demand for smart urban solutions. Singapore and Denmark should pursue further cooperation in R&D, including water management and environmental technology,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

“Denmark has a long tradition for designing urban development solutions that benefit the goals of our people, businesses and environment. Copenhagen, with its vision to be fossil independent by 2050 and carbon neutral by 2025, is a role model for sustainable and liveable cities. As leaders in smart cities, Singapore and Denmark have much to share and learn from each other. Our industries and think tanks can come together to provide real solutions that the world needs urgently to solve its challenges.”

Berit Basse, Ambassador of Denmark

Tan Kok Yam, Head of the Smart Nation Programme Office, outlined the objectives, priorities and challenges of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative. He highlighted that “places like Singapore and Copenhagen are keen in smart city development from two perspectives: to improve the lives of our own commuters and residents; and to play a role in the global value chain to deliver smart solutions relevant to the rest of world. In both aspects, I believe there can be scope to ride on each other’s strengths, share lessons and explore collaborations on breakthrough solutions.”

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Mayor Morten Kabell, Copenhagen City’s Technical and Environmental Mayor, shared Denmark’s smart city efforts, design approaches and focus on citizen involvement. He said that Denmark will adopt the triple helix model of collaboration, which involves the partnership of research institutions, private companies and the government to come up with innovative solutions for cities. “To be as innovative as possible, we want to leverage the triple helix concept of collaboration. We foresee a future wherein universities, industries and our two cities can participate and in collaboration with Copenhageners and Singaporeans contribute towards a higher level of knowledge to shape liveable cities of tomorrow.”

Denmark and Singapore are both small nations with a population of about 5.5 million people and have developed strong expertise in maximising the use of scarce resources. Water technology and public transport are two main areas where Copenhagen and Singapore are looking to learn from each other. The two countries are already partners in the water sector, having jointly set up the Water & Environment Research Centre and Education Hub in 2007, and the Danish Water Technology House in 2014.

Copenhagen Connecting

Søren Kvist

Søren Kvist, Senior Smart City Consultant at Copenhagen Solutions Lab, spoke on Copenhagen’s plans to build an integrated digital infrastructure, known as Copenhagen Connecting. With its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025, and the need to manage an estimated 20% increase in population, Copenhagen is looking to harness big data to reduce traffic congestion, lower carbon emissions and improve the quality of life of its citizens.

Real-time data collected from WiFi access points mounted in streetlights allows for detecting and triangulation of WiFi devices, RFID tags and Bluetooth devices. This anonymized data creates knowledge about how citizens, cars and bikes move throughout the city.

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Tapping on this knowledge base will enable an intelligent traffic management system to optimize traffic flow and remedy road congestions, and a dynamic RFID-based road pricing system to nudge citizens towards green transportation. The collected data can also be used for urban planning decisions, fleet management, crowd control and theft prevention.

A city-wide network infrastructure will connect parking systems, traffic lights, municipal buildings, smart metering systems and charging stations for electronic vehicles, while a smart grid sensor platform will provide real-time monitoring of municipal facilities, weather data, CO2 emissions, and an emergency management system in the event of a cloudburst in the city.

As an open digital platform, Copenhagen Connecting will bring together businesses, government agencies, research institutions and citizens to co-create smart city solutions. Vendors will deliver technologies based on open standards and APIs to avoid vendor lock-in and make the solutions scalable to larger areas and more use cases.

According to consultancy group Ramboll, Copenhagen Connecting will reap total annual benefits of 590 million euros. This includes an 11-32% optimized traffic flow, savings on 2.4 million car hours, 1.7 million litres of fuel reduction, 5.5 million cubic metres of water savings and 104 million euros worth of jobs created.

Kvist said: “Having a good infrastructure is key when we want to apply IoT and big data. If we build a state-of-the-art digital infrastructure, we can build solutions for tomorrow. Copenhagen, just like Singapore, wants to be a leading smart city in the world.”

This feature originally appeared in Enterprise Innovation.

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