Opening remarks by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean at the Punggol Digital District’s Groundbreaking Ceremony and Exhibition on 17 January 2020.
Punggol Digital District:
A Better Home in Punggol, A Model for Singapore
Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Transport & Communications and Information, and
Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs & National Development,
Mr Tan Chong Meng, Chairman, JTC
Prof Tan Thiam Soon, President, Singapore Institute of Technology,
Pasir-Ris Punggol Grassroots Leaders and Volunteers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning. Two years ago, we unveiled the master plan for Punggol Digital District. I am pleased to be back today to join everyone to take the next step in bringing this exciting plan to fruition - the ground-breaking ceremony.
Punggol has developed significantly through the years. The Punggol 21 blueprint was first unveiled in 1996, and the town was selected in 2010 to become Singapore’s first eco-town. From 2012, the master plan was further updated with the aspiration to be a sustainable and smart town, including plans for an industry cluster and an institute of higher learning, and this has now all evolved into the Punggol Digital District.
Today, Punggol is a vibrant, growing and sought-after residential town well known for its recreational spaces such as an extensive coastal promenade, Coney Island and the Punggol Waterway, providing our residents with a waterfront living experience. In fact, Punggol has water on three sides. Residents now live in a sustainable town that uses solar power, rain water harvesting and improved waste management.
The first Smart HDB homes in Punggol Northshore will also be completed later this year. Residents living there can look forward to homes with built-in smart sockets and smart distribution boards that enable better monitoring of household energy consumption. Around the estate, features such as smart lighting and fans will further contribute towards energy savings.
The Punggol Digital District heralds the next phase of development for Punggol. The establishment of a business park, a new campus for the Singapore Institute of Technology (or SIT), and new community facilities in the next few years will further reinforce Punggol as a thriving, smart and sustainable town for our residents, businesses and students. What we learn from developing Punggol as a smart town will also provide valuable insights for rejuvenating existing towns and developing future new towns and districts like Tengah and Jurong Lake District, as well as bring us closer as a whole to our Smart Nation plan for Singapore.
A Better Home in Punggol
So, what will the Punggol Digital District bring to our residents in Punggol? It means three things: (i) more jobs and learning opportunities; (ii) a greener and smarter home; and (iii) greater convenience for our residents.
First, more jobs and learning opportunities closer to home. We are developing Punggol into a hub for the Digital Economy, which will create more exciting jobs in key growth sectors like cyber security, data analytics, artificial intelligence and other digital technologies. These are all favourite buzzwords today. But here in Punggol Digital District, they will become real jobs for Singaporeans for the future. Other sectors such as facilities management and education would also make greater use of technology to raise productivity and create other higher-value jobs in areas which we considered traditional but which can also be transformed and brought forward into the future. For instance, engineers can make use of data to better plan for facilities maintenance, and educators can develop personalised learning support. The presence of SIT’s new campus will provide more learning opportunities for our students and adult learners focussing on applied and industry-relevant fields like Cybersecurity, Engineering, Food Technology, Assistive Technology, Allied Health and Hospitality.
The co-location of SIT and JTC’s business park will facilitate greater collaboration between industry and academia. This means part of the university campus will be located inside the business park, and conversely, some business activities and businesses will be located inside the SIT campus. It will be fully and well-integrated. Students can more easily work with companies on real-world problems, while companies can leverage the research capabilities, creativity and energy of students and faculty. The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and the Association of Information Security Professionals are also exploring moves to the Punggol Digital District, which will increase opportunities for industry and academia to interact, exchange ideas, and spur innovation, in sectors such as cybersecurity.
This will help grow Punggol into an innovation hub, where companies and research institutes work together to create, test, deploy, and integrate new technologies. This will create a dynamic and sustainable real world innovation ecosystem that will continuously generate good jobs and more learning opportunities especially for our residents in Punggol and the north-east region.
Second, we want to build a greener and smarter home here in Punggol for all our residents. We will have more greenery and public spaces for our residents to relax and unwind, as part of the greater green network of Punggol town. We will preserve and transform part of the Old Punggol Road, once the main transport route for farmers and fishermen from Punggol to Serangoon, into a 1.3 kilometre heritage trail. We are also building a new 800-metre pedestrian street along the campus that will link Punggol North via the Digital District to the waterfront area. A comprehensive cycling network will make it easy to get to the Punggol Digital District from any part of the town. With the new Punggol Coast MRT station completing in 2023, access to the Punggol Digital District will be further enhanced.
We will leverage the partnerships among our public agencies, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and the private sector here in Punggol to test-bed green technology and sustainable urban solutions. One such area is the development of solutions for smart energy grids involving JTC, SIT, and SP Group. SIT will provide the research teams and expertise, SP Group will provide the energy grid, and JTC will provide the building and estate management systems. For example, with wide-spread deployment of solar photovoltaic cells on the rooftops of JTC’s buildings and large-scale batteries, we aim to optimise energy consumption and reduce 1,500 tons of carbon emissions a year. This is equivalent to the emissions from about 200 cars on the road.
There is also the Open Digital Platform (ODP), co-designed and co-developed by ST Engineering, JTC, the Government Technology Agency, CSA, and Infocomm Media Development Authority, where real-time information about the environment is collected and used to better manage the district. The sensors linked to the ODP could allow us to detect and correct issues with facilities before they break down. Overall, the deployment of various technologies in the Punggol Digital District will make the buildings 30% more energy efficient compared to standard commercial buildings.
We will also introduce new concepts in sustainability and transport. We are working towards a pilot deployment of autonomous buses in the early 2020s so that our residents, workers and students can get around the town efficiently and conveniently. Bio-digesters will also be built to convert food and horticultural waste into compost for use in landscaping. And there will be a pneumatic waste conveyancing system which will also be deployed to centralise waste collection and disposal.
Third, we will create greater convenience for our residents. The use of data analytics and digital technologies will allow us to plan and manage the town, so as to deliver public services more effectively and quickly to meet the needs of our residents. For example, we can study footfall data to find the best places to locate community facilities and retail spaces that most conveniently serve our residents.
Our residents can also look forward to many convenient new smart amenities. For example, we are working on ways to provide one-stop and seamless government services through online and offline channels. We are building the Punggol Regional Sport Centre that supports virtual coaching, augmented reality gamification and online booking of facilities. We will also have a Community Club – a new-style Community Club – which is different from others. We will have a specialist community club, imPAct@Punggol Digital District, which will be a one-stop social space focusing on programmes for youth and working professionals. All these amenities will bring greater convenience and transform the lives of our Punggol residents.
A Model for Singapore
Beyond building a more dynamic and smart Punggol for our residents, what does the development of Punggol Town mean for Singapore?
From the new developments here in Punggol, we aim to stretch the boundaries of what is possible with smart city technology, build on these experiences, and demonstrate what a future Singapore can be as a Smart Nation. The entire Punggol Town with its housing precincts and the Digital District will serve as a living lab, for public agencies and companies to test out new concepts of living, working and delivering services.
These real-world experiments will help us to learn and improve the way we plan our city, making the best use of available technologies to solve practical problems. These experiences will allow us to better leverage technology to create good jobs, learning opportunities and convenient daily living for our residents and Singaporeans as a whole; create more opportunities to innovate and thrive for businesses; and create a clean, green and sustainable environment for all Singaporeans. Fundamentally, that is what a Smart Nation will be judged by – the improvements to the living experience of our people.
Our vision for Punggol as a smart town is challenging and exciting. It offers many opportunities for our students, companies and residents to actively contribute ideas and participate in making this vision a reality. This is the spirit of Singapore Together, where we all work together to build a future Singapore that we can all be proud to call home.
Thank you very much.
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