Sara Watson shared some very important insights in her recent Wired article entitled “What the UK can learn from Singapore’s smart city”:
“From New York to New Delhi, few “smart cities” can match Singapore’s commitment to experimentation. A state rich in capital and without lobbies to block pilot projects, when Singapore decides to implement, it does so nimbly and quickly. Surface-street trials of self-driving cars and buses address congestion. The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is testing internet-of-things devices in government-built housing developments, including smart lighting, pneumatic waste-collection and sensors to monitor elderly people who have fallen. Incubator spaces, government contract incentives and coding programmes entice startups and entrepreneurs. In Singapore, it’s called Smart Nation, a master plan for development to make the “little red dot” a global technology leader.”
Singapore ‘s smart nation initiative faces obstacles as well:
“Even the few apps trotted out as exemplary successes – such as the Beeline crowdsourced public-transit routing service or myResponder for crowdsourcing first-aid volunteers – suffer from low adoption rates, because efforts are not grounded in citizens’ practical needs and desires. To preserve a sense of privacy, older participants in pilot smart flats cover motion sensors with towels, putting in sharp focus what it’s like for a human to make this so-called living lab their home. Local sceptics ask, “For whom is this nation smart?” Post-Brexit, Britons may find themselves wondering the same thing.”
Sara Watson is a technology critic, an affiliate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, a writer in residence at Digital Asia Hub, and a Fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.
She presents at technology conferences around the globe, including SXSW and O’Reilly Strata. Her research and written work has appeared in Columbia Journalism Review, The Atlantic, Wired, Gizmodo, Motherboard, Harvard Business Review, Al Jazeera America, and Slate.
Sara began her career as an enterprise technology analyst at The Research Board (Gartner, Inc.), exploring implications of technological trends for Fortune 500 CIOs. She holds an MSc in the Social Science of the Internet with distinction from the Oxford Internet Institute, where her award winning thesis examined the personal data practices of the Quantified Self community. She graduated from Harvard College magna cum laude with a joint degree in English and American literature and film studies.
Sara‘s keynotes are:
- Big data, algorithms, and personal data: “Taking Personalization Personally,” exploring the human impacts of data as it is collected, interpreted, and used for decision making and personalization in our lives.
- Artificial intelligence: “The AI Story So Far,” on the dominant apocalyptic narratives we focus on about AI, and why we need more grounded, practical stories to understand our human-machine relationships with AI
- Smart cities: grounded Singapore case study as a test bed for smart city issues of the future
- Wearable tech and the Quantified Self: what consumers do with data, and what we can learn about making data accessible and manageable for users