Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development, IDA Singapore - Keynote Address First Asia Pacific Mobile Location Services Event, Oriental Hotel

Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development, IDA Singapore - Keynote Address
First Asia Pacific Mobile Location Services Event, Oriental Hotel
Singapore, 8 February 2001

1 I would like to share with you today 4 things about Location-Based Services in Singapore:

i. The status of wireless development - examples of companies, data available and applications

ii. The value of LBS - with an example of how it can be applied in a life saving situation

iii. Lessons learnt from the relative success of IMODE and WAP in providing wireless data services

iv. Singapore government's Wired With Wireless initiative.
Readiness for Location based services

2 Gartner Dataquest's Director, Mr Bertrand Bidaud has said, "The climax of high expectations is behind us, the euphoria has bottomed out." He commented that a mistake in hyping WAP was positioning WAP as the Internet - the experiences can be quite different. This has resulted in a negative image in the eyes of the public. With always-on access, WAP on GPRS may be welcomed improvement as an interim to the 3G. Telco operators and other market watchers point out that the returns from bringing 3G to the market will come from 2 complementary factors: availability of 3G handsets and compelling applications. In providing compelling applications, the exploitation of capabilities such as location-based services is important. Given that Asia-Pacific countries like Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore will be ready to roll out commercial 3G services from 2002 onwards, it is therefore timely for us to look at where we are today and whether we have the elements conducive to the development of location-based services right here in Singapore.

Vibrant Wireless Industry

3 MNCs with wireless developments in Singapore include Ericsson Cyberlab, AU-System, Motorola, HP Mobile e-Sevices Bazaar, Global Wireless Internet Centre by CAP Gemini and Ernst & Young, and so on. The burgeoning wireless development scene of Singapore even boasts of a few world's firsts, including

  • Orktopas, the WAP search engine developed by WAPWorkz and currently marketed by AirGateway;
  • Single-point, multi-platform WAP interaction service by;
  • Software for media-rich content repurposing on multiple web channels by NewsTakes; and
  • Software that runs the infrared port on Palm Pilot by Extended Systems Singapore.
    Wireless Usage - SIR example

4 The Government has also embarked on a series of trials for wireless communication. One such application was a pilot initiated by the Singapore Immigration and Registration Office to determine how wireless technologies could improve the immigration procedure for sea travellers. This pilot serves to assess the suitability of using handheld devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and ultraportable computers to replace the manual process of handling clearance of incoming vessels wherever there are no static checkpoints.

Availability of Trafficabiity Information

5 The LTA has also launched TrafficSmart, a web site that offers real-time traffic information captured via intelligent transport systems such as EMAS, ERP and Traffic Scan. Next, I would like to take you through some of the services or applications available for location-based services:

i. On a map, showing locations of congestions, accidents, roadworks, vehicle breakdowns, traffic signal light failures, etc.

ii. Roadworks - where, what and when

iii. Incident and alert reports

iv. Travel time information

v. Traffic scan snapshots

Virtual map

6 To encourage further innovation with map-based products and services in the likes of Virtual Map* from Singapore and MapInfo Mobile from the US, our Land Support Systems Unit has aggregated high-quality, integrated digitised land data from a wide variety of sources under the Land Data Hub. For example in, you can locate oneself on the map through a postal code or a key word, and find nearby amenities such as restaurants, foodcourts, cinemas and banks.

Availability of Digitised Land Data

7 Spatial data is available from LSSU in a variety of formats for different purposes, such as Internet real-estate services and street directories, in-vehicle navigation systems, and so on. More information on the availability of such data can be found at the URL* shown here.

Other applications

8 From the last few examples, we can expect ready deployment of location-based services through integrated product/service portals with media-rich content that can be delivered wired and wirelessly, on any Internet access device. Take for instance in the area of multi-modal transportation, a commuter at Lucky Plaza along Orchard Rd travelling to NorthPoint in Yishun can have directions presented in a variety of useful formats, such as:

  • Fastest route by car, or
  • Best route bypassing the ERP or the main roads, and
  • Shortest route by specific bus services operating from bus-stops in the vicinity of Lucky Plaza.

Similarly, in the area of retailing, one can be informed of last-minute ticket sales just prior to the next movie screening while walking past a cinema. Such personalised experiences play a key role in the widespread adoption of mobile communication for the industry and the consumer. I am sure our audience here can reel off many more possibilities than what I have shown.

LBS has also value in life saving situations

9 Let me also illustrate how the benefits personalisation and location-based services can not only increase our quality of life but also enhance our safety.

The story of the humble phone made proud

10 I am sure our audience here today is familiar with the recent auto accident where a French motorist claimed that a call from his Samsung SGH-600 got him the emergency rescue he needed after his car fell into a ravine filled with muddy water from heavy rainfall. He even wrote a letter of gratitude to Samsung Electronics in France and this became a widely acclaimed testimony for the phone manufacturer. What if we add a twist to the story - suppose the victim in this case pressed the hot button for emergency on his 3G handset as soon as he could fish it out from the muddy waters. Since the victim is a subscriber to the emergency location-based services, the operator was able to identify where the call was made from; assemble the medical resources needed from the hospital nearest to the victim's location; and ensure adequate medical supplies are prepared in anticipation of his present and any chronic medical condition.

IMODE and WAP's relative successes

11 So far we have looked at a positive side for development and deployment of location-based services. However, there are some lessons we can draw from the experience of early adopters in the wireless arena.

Did W@P work?

12 Rated by Red Herring as one of the top 5 wireless Internet companies in Europe, UK's ArgoGroup attributed the dismal failure of WAP in Europe to certain factors revolving the content provider, the operator, the device manufacturer and the end-user. It is a vicious cycle that is familiar to all - low adoption from the industry due to perceived low returns, limited device choices and functionalities which therefore led to limited service offerings and low consumer uptake from lack of compelling content.

Right revenue model?

13 In contrast, what were the critical success factors that made iMode a phenomenal success? According to George Hoffman of the Yankee Group, iMode's explosive growth in Japan can be attributed to:

  • NTT DoCoMo's overwhelming dominance in the market,
  • iMode service's ease-of-use,
  • The high handset subsidies paid by operators to the retailers, resulting in low handset prices,
  • The ease of iMode content creation using compact HTML, and
  • The ease of billing.

Furthermore in iMode, revenue was also shared with content providers who were in turn encouraged to generate more compelling content. As a result, iMode grossed revenue from the beginning, rating high with consumer subscription and stickiness.

What mobile location-based service would you use most?

14 In a new report on UMTS in Europe, Forrester Research has indicated that operators and ASPs view location-based services as "killer apps" for the wireless Internet and are working on technology that can bring information to users based on their exact location. The chart here shows the results of a January poll on preferred applications for location-based services conducted by, an European wireless Internet portal. Out of 507 responses, the more popular votes go towards entertainment and retail outlets, and budding-tracking. However, this may not be a universal snapshot as different markets can call for different emphasis and applications. In the US, location-based services that can offer price comparisons for shoppers will likely to be a major hit, while tourists at beach resorts in Southern Europe likely will find dining and entertainment information the most useful. In one of its newest reports, "Mobile Location Services; Market Strategies", Ovum says that location-based services will include a wide range of applications such as information, tracking and redirection of inbound/outbound calls. Ovum believes the big revenues will come from M-commerce and advertising.

15 Let me now share with you some of plans for Wireless Development in Singapore through our Wired With Wireless programme.

Wired with Wireless

16 Launched in October 2000 by Minister Yeo, the "Wired With Wireless" programme aims to position Singapore as having the best integrated wireline and wireless infrastructure. We look forward to the proliferation of technological innovation, exports of innovative wireless products and services, development of leading edge mobile communications talent and mass adoption of the wireless lifestyle.

Focus areas

17 The "Wired With Wireless" programme is focused on 3 key areas, namely: wireless multimedia; M-Commerce and location-based services. IDA looks forward to work with the industry to identify key projects in the areas of: retail, entertainment, transportation, finance and banking, manufacturing and logistics, healthcare, trading and intelligent homes. We are continually open to your views and ideas on deployment and implementation of wireless technologies in other areas.

Strategic Thrusts

18 These are the strategic thrusts have been identified to stimulate the growth of wireless developments in Singapore and will address issues in thought leadership, market access and manpower development, technology and infrastructure development, product and service development, as well as industry and consumer adoption.

Vision for Singapore

19 In conclusion, we aim for Singapore to be among the first in Asia to turn 3G into reality and we are confident that we have the necessary hard and soft infrastructure in place for companies to test bed, deploy and market your end-to-end 3G offerings for Singapore and the rest of Asia.

20 For more information on the "Wired With Wireless" programme, please write in to:



Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023