How Denmark and Singapore can benefit from each other as Smart Cities

Source of picture: "Co-Creating the Cities of Tomorrow - Danish Smart City Competencies in the Singaporean Market"
Source of picture: “Co-Creating the Cities of Tomorrow – Danish Smart City Competencies in the Singaporean Market”

Denmark and Singapore are both among the world’s most ambitious countries in the field of smart cities, and a new report from the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore has the purpose of fostering long term collaborations, partnerships, mutual learning and business opportunities between Denmark and Singapore. The report is called “Co-creating the cities of tomorrow – Danish Smart City Competencies in the Singaporean Market”” and the research study aims at identifying Singapore’s most pressing needs and ambitions within the concept of a Smart City, thereby gaining insight to the concrete and central gaps that Danish companies could possibly fill.

According to the report, which has been developed jointly by the Royal Danish Embassy, the Trade Council, Invest in Denmark and Quercus Group, Singapore can benefit from Denmark’s smart city expertise in the following areas:

  • Holistic urban planning and policy making
  • Citizen involvement and integrated public-private partnership approach
  • Active mobility – biking infrastructure and public engagement
  • Intelligent traffic solutions
  • Smart lighting
  • Green building – design, energy efficiency, cooling and retrofitting
  • Smart grid solutions
  • Health and welfare technologies and solutions
  • Data handling
  • Water management and blue/green infrastructure

Lisbet Andersen is the project manager from the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore and explains, that the report is the first step in a process of putting the topic of smart cities on the agenda – both in Singapore and in Denmark.

“In the beginning of the year, we realised the potential of a beneficial co-operation between Denmark and Singapore, and we decided to address it and work to promote the Danish smart city stronghold in Singapore,” she says.

Singapore has set an ambitious goal to become the world’s first and leading Smart Nation. In response to increased urban density in the already populated city-state and a growing ratio of elderly citizens, Singapore aims to ensure liveability, sustainable growth opportunities and build stronger communities for its people. This is why the Singaporean government is investing in information and communications technology (ICT), putting in place the policies and building the infrastructure and ecosystem to support and enable its Smart Nation Vision.

There is no single definition of a Smart City, as it is a concept that is constantly changing, but in the report it is defined, as “a strategy for developing a sustainable and liveable city by means of ICT and implementing high-tech solutions in the underlying infrastructure of the cityscape.” Previously, there have been and still are concepts of “eco cities” but according to the report, what sets a Smart City aside from those concepts that solely focuses on solutions in the underlying infrastructure of the cityscape, is the investment in human and social capital, openness and collaboration and breaking down ‘knowledge silos’ that exist between and within sectors, businesses and authorities. A Smart City is therefore not just about new high-tech ICT solutions, but also about creating a platform for exchange of knowledge between the public and private sectors, the knowledge institutions and the city’s inhabitants.

When it comes to smart cities, Singapore and Denmark have very different strengths and approaches, although they also have a strong common denominator: Liveability. As Lisbet Andersen explains, Singapore’s approach to the development of smart city solutions is very much top-down, often with point of departure in the technical side of things, then moving to policy and to increasingly focus on the population. The Danish approach, on the other hand, is more bottom-up, as it first and foremost focuses on the citizens and their needs, while addressing climate changes and drawing upon the innovative use of technology and data to increase the quality of life in the cities.

The report is the first step of the Embassy’s efforts of identifying smart city opportunities. Next step is an event in Singapore on the 28th of October, where the Embassy has invited keynote speakers with relevant expertise and knowledge from both Singapore and Denmark. Among those are Copenhagen’s Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs, Morten Kabell. Companies and interested individuals are invited for the event, which is also open for the public.

The report concludes that in a combination of the smart city agendas and competencies of these two small and geographically distant nations, there is a tremendous market opportunity for Danish solutions in Singapore, as well as promising investment opportunities in Denmark for Singaporean investors.

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