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Singapore holds the smart key to success

Singapore holds the smart key to success

Singapore, one of the most innovative countries in Asia Pacific, is taking matters into its own hands. With the economy and political issues that have pushed the country to further employ automated systems, Singapore is at the forefront of smart technology.

Rated as one of the top places in the world to do business, Singapore is home to many multinational company regional headquarters. With an English-speaking environment and highly developed infrastructure, Singapore is an ideal country for companies to expand to other Southeast Asian nations. As a hub of the Southeast Asian region, the country is famous for a high level of technology adoption. In recent years, its trend migrates to smart and intelligent technologies in the Singaporean security industry. The foreign worker policy has further pushed Singapore's adoption of new technology to help reduce manpower and save cost on human monitoring due to the tight labor market. Both government and commercial projects are growing in recent years, employing additional use of smart technology. According to Rick Huang, Business Development Manager at Alstron, the government is looking at using cameras with suitable back-end VCA solutions to improve productivity to replace labor intensive jobs like traffic monitoring and illegal parking. Ken Lee Kim Keong, Director of KZTech explained, “there are already many analytical software companies entering the market, and projects releasing from both commercial and government sectors are putting VCA as part of the package.”

“In the low-end market, it is obvious that the customers are after box solutions, where packages offer hardware with software solutions. While in the high-end market, the end users are after value adding through application driven products (surveillance) where they have the freedom to choose applications for their video centric operation needs,” said Sunny Kong, Director of Sales for APAC at Milestone Systems.

SMART SOLUTIONS FOR PROJECTS
A “smart” solution conceptually is a breakthrough for energy conservation, management, and monitoring in buildings and campuses through a mean of enhancing energy efficiency, data center reliability, comfort and analytics, according to Kenneth Tsang, Director of R&D and Technical Services, Video & Situation Intelligent Solutions for Verint Systems.

Transportation
There are a number of promising projects rolling out in recent years using smart technology. They can be seen in various verticals, one of which is transportation. Recent projects include use of surveillance and custom software solutions to detect illegal parking in pickup areas along mass rapid transit (MRT) stations. Surveillance solutions with smart software are being implemented to detect speeding cars, and detect over height vehicles that are entering height restricted areas.

The transportation sector has also incorporated smart systems in projects as tourism continues to grow in Singapore due to the opening of Integrated Resorts to attract more visitors. Changi Airport has access control systems and hundreds of intelligent card readers by CEM Systems from Tyco Security Products implemented that support smartcards and fingerprint biometrics. An intelligent building security system was also deployed that is integrated with the Singapore Airlines Human Resources SAP system, an interface with the existing visitor system and digital video surveillance/DVR systems integration. This leads to opportunities for smart security solutions when Terminal 4 of Changi Airport finishes construction in 2017.

Smart Buildings
Demands for security products in smart buildings are likely to be in the aspects of full integration and automation, able to provide time efficient incident management, low maintenance cost, easy-to-use manageable systems, remotely controllable systems without distance limitations, efficient system have the ability to integrate with business continuity management systems. According to Masami Eguchi, GM for APAC at Panasonic System Communications, a lot of video surveillance projects are implementing video surveillance and recording with a high-end VMS system into a single platform.

However, combining intelligent solutions in buildings itself is not a new concept, but with most recent technologies that allow for more integrated solutions, smart buildings will in time be highly sophisticated and automated for the user's needs. For instance, data available for building facilities can be shared across relevant users within the organization for other analyses such as business processing, explained Stella Neo, GM for CSO-Singapore at Bosch Security Systems. “Customers are looking how to best maximize the usage of various systems in the building that contribute to the business, organization efficiency and productivity, e.g., maximize security, maximize communication, maximize safety.”

Education
Opportunities in education are growing, with Singapore working with major educational institutions to reinforce its educational hub status using smart technology. Such technology can be seen in SimonsVoss Technologies' projects at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and Yale – National University of Singapore Campus and Hikvision's projects in the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.

Hospitality
Solutions used for resort projects incorporate smart technology to secure the premises. ST Electronics was awarded the Resort World Sentosa project, worth US$71.7 million, to provide an integrated security system, network infrastructure, and an intelligent car park system for the facility. CEM Systems from Tyco Security Products was awarded the $6.3 billion Marina Bay Resort project to implement 15,000 card holders, and more than 650 card readers. The project provided for the resort access control, alarm processing, and a photo badging system.

Healthcare
Smart security solutions in healthcare are expected to roll out due to a shrinking workforce and aging population. Smart card technology is used in hospitals for staff and visitors to have access to multiple doors, as well as tracking attendance at staff events or trainings. Regulated by the government's Ministry of Health, more projects are anticipated to launch, considering the government's spending in this sector, said Giridhari Ramamoorthy, Director of Sales and Business Development at Pacom Systems.

SAFE CITY FOR A SAFER CITY
Singapore launched its first safe city test bed initiative last year to explore possibilities of deploying a city-wide integrated surveillance system. Technologies tested and developed in the project included analytics and sensor engines, facial recognition video analytics used in combination with location-aware analytics, and technology to authenticate video streams. Industry players collaborated with the government to develop possible solutions in the urban landscape with real-time data and scenarios through advanced monitoring and analytics. According to Jason P. Kurek, MD of Asia at SimonsVoss Technologies, this enabled the Singapore government to gain awareness of capabilities, solutions, and innovations from the research and development of private sector industry players. “By actively engaging industry players through the test bed platform, Singapore government shall be in a good position to leverage on them to develop innovative capabilities elevating safe city initiative to a greater height. With the government's strong support, it is therefore opined that safety and security industry shall become the next in-thing for Singapore,” said Joshua Kwai, Group CEO of JK Consultancy Holdings Group. With the initiative mandated and encouraged by the government, the safe city market in Singapore will have great potential. According to Tsang, “there will be a need to apply intelligent detection, real-time situation monitoring, and strategic analysis to help the city collect and analyze information faster, manage and respond to situations efficiently, and keep their citizens safe.”

For the future of the safe city initiative, new projects are continuing to roll out. Sensors that will monitor air and water quality, as well as public safety will be deployed at high traffic areas, and various proof of concepts have been completed.

Singapore Turns to Technology
As future projects for safe city are expected to roll out, Singapore is at the forefront as one of the world's top technology hubs. With tight labor markets and rising cost affecting the economy, many are motivated to relook at incorporating smarter and more innovative technologies to move away from a labor intensive security landscape. As the country's economic growth continues to improve, hopefully smart technology is the key Singapore needs to get back on track.

Chinese Players Entering the Market
The entry of China in the world market has triggered heated price competition in Singapore. Introducing products with cheap prices, the government has started incorporating Chinese products in projects due to price budgets. “China-made products have made a great leap into the low cost segment and are also starting moving into government projects,” said Masami Eguchi, GM for APAC at Panasonic System Communications.

Initially, Chinese products were deemed as unreliable and easily worn out, however over the years, the quality of some Chinese brands have improved, gaining approval from the Singapore government. According to Derek Yang, Asia Business Manager at Hikvision Digital Technology, Hikvision's growth rate achieved an exponential amount in sales revenue in Singapore last year, compared to the previous year.

However, it seems that Chinese products are more accepted for basic products, such as cameras and video surveillance systems. Patrick Lim, MD of Ademco Security Group, explained when it comes to more complex systems such as security management platforms and access control, there is still a strong preference for established global brands that can meet the government's quality and unique technical requirements. As Chinese products maintain its product improvement growth and provide adequate support, it will be likely that more and more people will start to use Chinese products due to the low cost.

Government vs. Commercial Sector
The security industry has grown in recent years, as Singapore is keen to maintain the country's position as one of the safest countries in the world. “This is evident in the island-wide installation of security cameras and systems in key areas such as train stations, transportation hubs, highways and roads, public housing estates, and even in low lying areas for flood monitoring,” explained Riki Nishimura, GM of Visual Security Solutions, Professional Solutions Company (PSAP) for APAC at Sony Electronics. In Singapore, both government and commercial projects are growing in recent years, with the government sector taking up a larger market share due to the large quantities required for projects.

The government sector has been the main driver for medium to large project and infrastructures, mainly focusing on surveillance, to ensure the safety of both old and new infrastructures, and to curb crime related incidents. “The government sector will be enhancing many public facilities and infrastructure that were long overdue,” said Patrick Lim, MD of Ademco Security Group. Whereas for the commercial sector, projects rolled out for office, retail, and residential space are suffering from slight excess due to the poor economy. “Both government and commercial sectors are developing in tandem and are entwined, however there are still certain structural and productivity changes that are painful for some sectors of the economy, and the successes of the private sector would be indicative of the success of the implemented policies of the government,” Jason P. Kurek, MD of Asia at SimonsVoss Technologies explained. For instance, big commercial projects such as the Integrated Resorts and Universal Studios in turn add growth to the government sector as well as the commercial sector.



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