Defining a smart nation: the case of Singapore

Publication Date14 Nov 2016
AuthorSiu Loon Hoe
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information management & governance,Information & communications technology
Dening a smart nation: the case
of Singapore
Siu Loon Hoe
Institute of Systems Science,
National University of Singapore, Singapore
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify the key characteristics and propose a working
denition of a smart nation.
Design/methodology/approach A case study of Singapore through an analysis of the key
speeches made by senior Singapore leaders, publicly available government documents and news
reports since the launch of the smart nation initiative in December 2014 was carried out.
Findings – Just like smart cities, the idea of a smart nation is an evolving concept. However, there are
some emerging characteristics that dene a smart nation.
Research limitations/implications The paper provides an initial understanding of the key
characteristics and denition of a smart nation at the nascent stage and a foundation for further
research on the topic.
Originality/value – This paper contributes to the existing smart cities and smart nation literature by
providing insights to the key characteristics of smart nation and proposing a working denition of the term.
Keywords Innovation, Government, Collaboration, Big data, Digital technology, Smart cities
Paper type Conceptual paper
With the increasing number of the world’s population moving to and living in cities, there
has been a growing movement for smart cities. The rapid growth of smart cities has
reignited interest on the topic and generated much discussion. As the study on smart cities
expands, new ideas and terms such as smart nation are added to the literature. However, it is
noted that the conceptual understanding and empirical research of a smart city are still at a
relatively early stage of development (Kitchin, 2015). Thus, there is a need to deepen the
understanding of a smart city and clarify newly coined terms such as smart nation.
This article aims to present a study of a smart nation. It uses the case research method to
examine Singapore. The main reason why Singapore was selected is because the city-state
has recently announced and launched a “smart nation initiative” (Lee, 2014). As part of the
case discussion, key speeches by senior Singapore leaders, publicly available government
documents and news reports since the launch of the initiative in December 2014 and up to the
beginning of 2016 will be examined. This article identies the key characteristics of a smart
nation and proposes a working denition based on Singapore’s experience.
The article is organised as follows. Firstly, a review of the current literature on smart
cities and digital technology trends is presented. Secondly, an analysis of Singapore’s
information and communication technology (ICT) journey and smart nation initiative is
carried out. Thirdly, a discussion on the key characteristics of a smart nation and a
proposed denition of the term are presented. Finally, managerial implications,
limitations of the study and areas for future research are highlighted.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Dening a
smart nation
Received 23 February 2016
Revised 8 June 2016
Accepted 17 August 2016
Journalof Information,
Communicationand Ethics in
Vol.14 No. 4, 2016
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JICES-02-2016-0005

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