The first thing that Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said regarding the new technologies being brought about in the field of transport is that Singapore will slowly adapt them and avoid rushing into the changes. According to him, the country’s objective is to browse through and get acquainted with an array of technological recourses before settling for a few efficient solutions that are based on well-thought calculations.
At the opening of the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Center, Mr. Khaw clearly stated that, right now what matters the most is that they are “plugged-in” and has transparent knowledge of all the technological options available to them. He also added that by readily joining hands with these technologies, through pilots, researches and trials, Singapore can analyze their status of development through enhanced ways.
An Intelligent Transport system must chiefly be a wise one and encapsulate factors beyond technology. It must be politically susceptible, by taking the factors of speed, safety, reliability, and affordability into account. In the words of Mr. Khaw, the system must be such that it contributes to the effectiveness of transportation and improves the overall quality of life. Another intriguing point that he put across was that there can be no one-size-fits-all model; meaning, what appears convenient for the other countries can miserably fail for Singapore and what performs perfectly for the country today, can seem outdated 10 years later. He further conveyed to the audience that even if they take time with the new technologies, certain changes will inevitably make it into their plan, including the 5G infrastructure; in fact, Singapore will be amongst the first few countries to support the 5G trials, co-invest alongside the industry and develop new-use cases for their customers and contemporaries.
In case of autonomous vehicles, researchers and studies are still being carried out but their modifications do not lie in the near future. Additionally, pilots to control driverless buses and shuttles are planned for Tengah, Punggol and Jurong Innovation District to go on the floors by 2022. But, Mr. Khaw warned his countrymen against a curse; that is, technology can undoubtedly make life easier, but, it will also separate the tech-savy users from the vast majority which is not as comfortable with the reign of technology.
Some technology can also prove harmful to the native people who depend on simplistic means of transport for their livelihood; for instance, the cab services accompanied by convenience and lower rates have depreciated the means of living of the common taxi drivers. Unlike the strapping and traditional rail system that doesn’t allow information to leave the peripheries of its system, the new technologies will bring with it a series of cyber vulnerabilities as a direct result of these Intelligent systems.
The 5G trial being an exception to the case, will find way into Singapore’s development because it will ensue a source of support for the future Tuas seasport where the government is constructing a new-generation port to accelerate a new digital economy.