What does a smart city look like?

2018-07-29 00:00 - Nafisa Akabor
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an aerial photo of Singapore connected with techno

(Photo: iStock)

Singapore beat London and New York to top the Global Smart City Performance Index 2017, which was based on four categories: public safety, mobility, healthcare and productivity.

The country recently played host to the World Cities Summit 2018, where #Trending, as a guest of Mastercard, was given a tour to show what’s offered in a smart city.

Contactless MRT payments

A well-established public transport system caters to both residents and visitors in a city.

To cut down on the hassle of trying to figure out how the system works, Mastercard’s contactless cards doubled up as tickets for the MRT trains in Singapore. Armed with a prepaid credit card, we seamlessly tapped in and out of the train station, without visiting the ticket booths or interacting with another person.

Smart traffic

Singapore’s roads have embedded intelligent sensors that monitor traffic and adjust traffic lights accordingly.

Other factors that help are cameras around the city, electronic signs, real-time parking availability, and Green Man+, which provides more time for the elderly and people with disabilities to cross the streets.

SEE: Singapore to deploy driverless buses from 2022

Digital beauty bar

The OUE Downtown shopping centre is home to Asia’s first “digital beauty bar”, complete with interactive touch screens for instant access to more than 140 products from global brands such as Nars, Clarins and Shiseido. The state-of-the-art vending machines allow shoppers to browse without interacting with sales staff. After making a purchase, the drawer beneath the screen opens to reveal the products.

At the Sustainable Singapore Gallery, we saw a demo of how 30% of the country’s water needs are met by the NEWater plants. It reuses sewage water that undergoes an intense three-stage purification process, with results that have surpassed the World Health Organisation’s standard for drinking water.

 Sustainable Singapore Gallery (Photo: Supplied, pub.gov.sg

Even the process of going through Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4 impressed. There is almost no human interaction, from the self-service check-in counters to automated immigration points, and computerised tax refund booths. Singapore truly felt like a city from the future, and Mastercard hopes to bring the world a step closer to getting smart.

SEE: Singapore: A medley of architecture, heritage and food

The company has come up with a solution to help cities become smarter quicker through its City Possible website. The portal serves as a “think-tank” for mayors, executives, civic leaders and academics to create a blueprint for the future of cities. Mastercard sees itself as a technology company first, and believes today’s urban challenges are best solved through collaboration.

“From access to basic services such as transport and affordable housing to engaging arts and culture, locals and tourists expect that cities make good use of resources that already exist and harness emerging technologies,” says Miguel Gamiño Jr, executive vice-president for global cities at Mastercard.

“We invite public and private sector leaders to join us in making tech truly work for people.”

We’d love to see Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban find workable solutions for its existing problems via City Possible.

MUST SEE: Quick Guide to Singapore: Visa-free travel for South Africans

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