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Smart Nation moves for better bus commutes

SINGAPORE — Buses equipped with sensors to determine how crowded they are; commuters using information gathered from those sensors to plan their journeys, or alternative routes, if needed.

Smart Nation moves for better bus commutes

Sensors tell the crowd levels of buses and this information is then fed to commuters to help them decide their route. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — Buses equipped with sensors to determine how crowded they are; commuters using information gathered from those sensors to plan their journeys, or alternative routes, if needed.

From crowd control to scheduling and efficient route planning, experiments are currently being undertaken to improve urban mobility, a key area of focus for Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.

“We’re putting in place infrastructure to collect a lot more data about our transport network. For example, our buses now are equipped with not just geo-location sensors but sensors to tell the crowdedness levels of the bus. We feed that to the commuters, who can ... decide on the route to take to their destination,” said Mr Tan Kok Yam, Head of the Smart Nation Programme Office, today (Sept 22).

“At the systemic level, we consolidate this and we use that to … plan routes, how we design the transportation system.”

The Smart Nation Programme seeks to harness infocomm technology, networks and data to support better living, create more opportunities, and to support stronger communities.

“The question we are asking in this experiment is if we are able to hack the bus system in a positive way. With enough data, I will know that at 7.30am, 30 people will take the bus from Changi and drop off at Pasir Panjang, so I add the bus that brings (them) from Changi to Pasir Panjang. At 8am, the same bus will take 30 people from Pasir Panjang to Toa Payoh, one direct bus route, and I can do that because I have the data to plot where people get on and off,” he said, adding that this is still in an experimental stage.

As for smart homes and environment, Mr Tan noted that the Housing Development Board and other agencies, after conducting several trials, are now “prepared to pilot it at real homes”.

Some solutions being looked at are those that enable energy management as well as independent elderly living, which is important as Singapore has an ageing population.

He pointed out that it is relatively easier to deploy smart homes in a country like Singapore. “We can do it more easily than most other cities, because 80 per cent of our homes are built by one developer, the HDB,” he said. “If we are able to trial and pilot solutions in terms of introducing the passive infrastructure, for example (having) smart sockets or outlets for sensors to be placed, we can deploy (them) through the country.”

As Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative kicks into gear, Mr Tan also called for “enablers” to set the rollout into place and urged further collaboration between research institutes and the industry, and for more to be done to address the current talent shortage.

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