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How Singapore is realizing the true power of IoT

By Jean-Philippe Courtois, President, Microsoft International on February 15, 2016

Filed under Microsoft CityNext


We’re at a transformative moment in time where the proliferation of technology has penetrated into every aspect of our lives and allows us to advance a broad range of sectors. With the number of connected devices set to reach 26 billion by 2020, we’re reaching a tipping point in which we can realize the power of Internet of Things (IoT) across various sectors – from transport to logistic and healthcare.

On a recent trip to Singapore, I had the pleasure of meeting with Microsoft partners, and business leaders in both the public and private sectors. I am impressed by the country’s drive towards becoming the world’s first Smart Nation – a bold vision that is being realized by bringing together government, academics, big businesses, and startups, to solve some of the world’s toughest societal challenges through technologies such as the cloud, IoT, and analytics.

My visit inspired me to think of the numerous ways technology can have a positive impact on society. One example is traffic management. Vehicles on the road are today built with an increasing number of sensors and road traffic cameras and traffic lights are picking up more data than ever. Having a central hub where these data can be analyzed and actionable insights provided at real time could be the key to improving traffic flows in densely populated areas.

This is exactly what the Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA) has done. Since 2011, LTA has hosted a rich repository of land transport data on our Azure platform to provide real-time insights to help the public make transportation decisions. LTA has also made these data available in a “Data Mall” to allow the public, especially application developers, to build unique mobile apps while drawing data from LTA. I was also glad to learn that this is an area where our local team has supported through such initiatives as a 4-day hackathon to inspire innovation among youths in Singapore by building applications that will provide new solutions to urban challenges.

Credit: Doralyn Tan, TODAY

Enabling the local ecosystem is something that the Microsoft team in Singapore is very passionate about. To date, the team has empowered over 50 IT partners, including independent software vendors and application builders in Singapore, to help public and private organizations to leverage IoT by harnessing untapped data that will help reimagine their business in an increasingly connected world. These partners are already working with customers in vertical markets including manufacturing, oil and gas, building management, and healthcare co-develop solutions around asset management, smart building facilities, remote monitoring, and predictive maintenance to create an ecosystem which integrates devices, connectivity, and analytics through a cloud platform. An example is a pilot to improve chiller efficiencies of 30 buildings in Singapore, whose skyline is dominated by high-rise residential and commercial buildings in the tropics.

As the average age of our global population increases, healthcare is another area that could reap significant benefits from IoT. I’ve been impressed by the leaps and bounds healthcare has taken thanks to the help of technology. I expect to see this continue in 2016, with big data, analytics, and AI helping us to better understand complex health problems, and wearables allowing individuals to effectively track their health and well being beyond their heart rate. Sensors and devices on individuals can also provide up-to-date information on vital signs, and could help healthcare professionals to monitor outpatients remotely. Being able to gather larger data sets could also provide some hints as to the cause of diseases, enabling doctors and scientists to diagnose conditions earlier and, perhaps one day, identify a possible cure.

smart watch

One of our partners in Singapore has leveraged the power of IoT to provide the elderly with remote monitoring system that connects services such as vital signs monitoring and tele-medicine as part of the development of the Smart Home concept.

With its strong public infrastructure and forward looking government that is keen to build a Smart Nation, Singapore is an ideal test-bed that can bring to life Microsoft’s CityNext initiative – an ambition to help more cities become smarter with the ultimate aim of improving lives.

However, Singapore should not be an isolated example.

As and when neighboring countries are ready to implement these technologies, the pilot in Singapore should serve as a point of inspiration. We’re eager to partner with more governments and private enterprises to make IoT part of the people-first approach to urban living around the region and rest of the world.

Jean-Phillipe_FinalJean-Philippe Courtois, President, Microsoft International

Jean-Philippe has more than 30 years’ experience in the global technology industry, previously serving as Chief Executive Officer and President of Microsoft EMEA. He was also co-chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Digital Divide Initiative Task Force and served on the European Commission Information and Communication Technology Task Force. In 2009 he served as an EU Ambassador for the Year of Creativity and Innovation and, in 2011, was named one of ‘Tech’s Top 25’ by The Wall Street Journal Europe. He serves on the board of directors for AstraZeneca and is also a board member of PlaNet Finance, a worldwide leading micro-finance organization.

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