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Wired With Wireless: A PATH To Innovation

Khoong Hock Yun, Acting Chief Executive Officer, IDA Singapore - Speech Canadian High Commission's Launch of STMS, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, 18 March 2002

Khoong Hock Yun, Acting Chief Executive Officer, IDA Singapore - Speech
Canadian High Commission's Launch of STMS, Shangri-La Hotel
Singapore, 18 March 2002

Your Excellency, Ms Doreen Steidle,
Senior Trade Commissioner, Mr Steven Gawreletz,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good afternoon to you all.

First of all, I would like to thank the Canadian High Commission for this opportunity to witness the launch of the School Bus Tracking and Monitoring System by Unity Wireless Integration (S) Pte Ltd.

The launch today is significant for both Canada and Singapore as it is the result of the joint collaboration and partnership between organizations from both our countries. Being the first time that such a system is piloted here in Singapore reinforces our efforts to make Singapore a living lab where innovation thrives and innovative products and services are quickly adopted in real user environments.

Singapore - An Ideal Test Bed

Singapore is a good living lab for innovative Infocomm technologies or ICT because of advanced telecoms infrastructure, competitive ICT market, and a generally technology-savvy and young population.

We have a world-class broadband infrastructure that provides over 99% island wide coverage and regional and international connectivity with a capacity, as at this month, of over 21 Terabits per second to more than 30 countries. We also have a fully liberalized telecommunications market with 35 facilities-based and 614 services-based operators providing a wide spectrum of advanced telecommunications services including GPRS that is used in this project. In addition, Singaporeans are also relatively technology-savvy. For example, 2 out of 3 Singapore households own a PC; 1 in 2 Singaporeans use the Internet and 1 out of every 4 of these users surf on broadband; and last but not the least, 3 out of 4 Singaporeans are mobile phone subscribers. These adoption rates are among the highest in the world.

Currently almost every school has broadband access and students use IT almost effortlessly to help them in their schoolwork and even for play. This is the generation that has grown up with the use of technology as part of their lives and not be afraid to try out new or innovative technology products or services. With a ready base of sophisticated consumers, companies will be able to trial new products and services to a discerning audience before a commercial roll out. Our multi-racial population also offers a good test market for regional expansion. Therefore, these factors help Singapore-based ICT companies to individually and/or partner with best-of-breed ICT companies to develop and pilot innovative ICT products and services in Singapore and ultimately for deployment in regional and international markets.

Encouraging Pilots & Trials

Besides having a good infrastructure and a ready market, we have also put in place initiatives to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative technologies in a real environment.

The School Bus Tracking and Monitoring System is one project that was developed under such an initiative. It is supported by the Pilot and Trial Hotspots (PATH) initiative under IDA's Wired With Wireless programme that was launched in October 2000. The PATH initiative was set up to support pilots and trials for wireless technologies and applications. It was expanded in November 2001 to include all emerging ICT such as broadband, software and services and encourage the development of best-of-breed services in Singapore. A sum of $48million was set aside for this initiative, and to-date about half of this amount has already been committed to various projects.

Through PATH, Unity Wireless is able to test bed the innovative use of GPRS in fleet management as well as on-board monitoring system that is designed to be network-independent. This project involves the collaboration of the school, the parents and the bus operator to provide a more secure environment for our children.

If the trial of the School Bus Tracking and Monitoring System is successful, other schools will be able to benefit from its use to have better security for students; peace of mind for parents as well as enable better customer service by the school bus operators. This is the first time that PATH is used to develop a service for schools. I look forward to having more proposals from companies and schools to pilot the use of ICT in a school environment.

Besides this project, the PATH initiative has also been used to support pilots and trials in the use of ICT for businesses as well as consumers. Some of these include: Using wireless technologies to support a mobile workforce; using mobile or wireless devices to pay for goods and services such as the mobile payment trials led by NCS, System@ Work, Nokia and ST Electronics as well as location based services at Tampines Town led by SingTel and Cambridge Positioning systems.

Despite the economic downturn, it is heartening that we do have quite a lot of exciting developments in the ICT arena in Singapore. The value of carrying out pilot and trials is not so much in its success but rather the opportunity for companies to be able to hone their product or a service that can better meet customer's needs. The challenge for innovative companies is not necessarily only to make products work in a lab environment but also in a real user environment. We hope that through PATH, companies will gain better insights to market needs and enable them to "go to market" with commercially viable products and services for Singapore, Asia, and internationally.


In closing, I would like to wish Unity Wireless; its trial participant Anglo-Chinese School (Junior); and all other parties involved a successful trial. I would also like to thank the Canadian High Commission for hosting this event. Today's launch reinforces the tremendous benefit that technology can bring to our lives and I look forward to having more projects to test-bed innovative ICT products and services that will help enhance our quality of life.

Thank you.