Singapore to focus on 4 technology areas

Singapore will be focusing on four technology areas to build the foundation for its digital transformation. These are artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, cybersecurity, immersive media, and Internet of Things and future communications infrastructure.

At the opening of Infocomm Media Business Exchange at Marina Bay Sands Singapore Convention Centre, Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim noted that “they are exciting fields with bright prospects in their own right, and they have great potential to transform other industries and enhance people’s lives”.

Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
The nation has established AI.SG, a national programme with funding of up to S$150 million to boost Singapore’s AI capabilities.

“Through partnerships between research institutes and companies to expand knowledge, create tools, and develop talent in AI, we hope that AI.SG can help to address major challenges that affect society and industry, in areas such as finance, city management, and healthcare,” said Dr Yaacob.

Another initiative is the Singapore Data Science Consortium, which aims to strengthen collaboration among Institutes of Higher Learning, research institutes, and the industry in data science R&D, with the objective of facilitating industry adoption of cutting-edge data science and analytics technologies to address real-world challenges. The consortium will also build a local pipeline of talents with deep data science capabilities.

The minister announced the first TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) Fintech project with DBS Bank to develop more fresh professionals with capabilities in agile development, DevOps, information security, and data analytics for the financial services sector.

New partners such as Tata Consultancy Services and DerivIT have come on-board to train fresh professionals in fintech, data analytics, and software development. The Infocomm and Media Development Authority (IMDA) has also partnered SAS Institute to embark on a fourth company led training programme to develop more data science and analytics professionals for the industry.

Singtel, ST Electronics (Info-Security), Quann, Accel, and Deloitte are among the companies that have embarked on the Cybersecurity Associates and Technologists (CSAT) programme to train more cybersecurity professionals.

“The government has also established the National Cybersecurity R&D Programme since 2013, with funding of up to S$130 million over five years, to develop R&D expertise and capabilities in cybersecurity to improve the trustworthiness of Singapore’s cyber infrastructure, ” said Dr Yaacob.

Immersive media
IMDA has worked with Beach House Pictures to pilot the use of virtual reality (VR) in social studies in five primary schools. Through the pilot lessons, about 400 students in Primary Four and Five have learnt about design and architectural features of buildings as well as characteristics of high-tech farming.

Beach House Pictures also worked with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to develop VR content closely aligned to the social studies curriculum. It has collaborated with Hiverlab to develop a customised VR classroom application for teachers to guide students on VR experiences to different locations around Singapore.

IMDA and Tan Tock Seng Hospital will be collaborating with local tech and visual effects company SideFX Studios to use VR and mixed reality to augment clinical training. Traditional clinical training is resource intensive and costly, and might not be able to replicate scenarios realistically. This collaboration will develop immersive simulations for basic surgical skills and complex airway management, which is critical in life-threatening emergencies.

“The government has also established International Research Centres under the Interactive Digital Media Strategic Research Programme, some of which have developed strong R&D capabilities in VR and augmented reality, or AR. These include the BeingTogether Centre hosted at NTU that focuses on immersive telepresence technologies, as well as the Keio-NUS Connective Ubiquitous Technology for Embodiments (CUTE) Centre hosted at NUS that focuses on feeling communication through multi-sensory connection technology,” said Dr Yaacob.

Internet of Things (IoT) and future communications infrastructure
To further multiply the potential of IoT, and to further fuel the digital economy, IMDA will be partnering the industry to develop and put in place key components of future-ready and resilient communications infrastructure that will benefit consumers and businesses across various sectors.

These include enhancements to the Nationwide Broadband Network, IoT networks, 5G mobile network, and sensor networks to enable businesses to leverage high-speed networks, real-time communications, and high-accuracy location positioning to better deliver their services.

IMDA has conducted industry consultations to seek feedback and ideas, the first of which was on 5G spectrum requirements and regulatory provisions, and how policies can move in tandem with technology to address needs.

“IMDA will also waive frequency fees for 5G trials to lower the regulatory barrier and to encourage industry trials in 5G technology,” declared the minister.