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Living in the gaze of the Smart Nation and its sensor-enabled lamp posts

7 May 2018

Someone remarked to me the other day that to call the ubiquitous device that is never far from our hands a "smartphone" is a bit of a misnomer, given that we mostly use it for every purpose other than telephony. We use it to surf the Internet, stream movies and music, text, e-mail, do business, take pictures and so forth. And only rarely, it seems, do we talk on it.

In the same way, to refer to the latest Smart Nation offering as "smart lamp post" makes it sound as though it is merely a street lamp with a camera tacked on to it. Given its powerful and far-reaching surveillance capabilities, it does rather a lot more than that.

Technology is central to Singapore's Smart Nation project. It is true there are other crucial aspects of realising the Smart Nation vision, such as transforming society's prevailing mindset, culture, processes, structures and so forth. But really, it is the technology that stands out if for no other reason than it is tangible, visible, and frankly, impressive.

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This article was first published in The Straits Times on 24 April 2018.
Dr Adrian W J Kuah

Head (Case Studies Unit) & Senior Research Fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy