Chen Tianqiao

Lead: Mr Poon King Wang (LKYCIC, SUTD)
Dr Samuel Chng, Mr Foo Heng Tong, Mr Goh Zi An Galvyn, Mr Darion Jin Hotan, Dr Dinithi Nilanga Jayasekara, Mr William Liu Shu Yuan, Dr Assel Mussagulova, Ms Cheryl Tang Jiawen, Dr Thijs Willems, Ms Radha Vinod, Dr Andy Zheng (LKYCIC, SUTD)

How can cities become and stay smart? The Smart Cities Lab under the Chen Tianqiao Programme on Urban Innovation at the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities aims to answer this question by focusing on three thrusts in education and research: 

Smart People 

How can smart cities develop smart people through work and education? 

A city is only as smart as what its people do. They need to be smart too. Moreover, recent economic, social and political changes around the world has made one thing clear: even as we build better buildings, more intelligent transport and smarter homes, we must also innovate in the social institutions of work and education. Together, they develop the long term capabilities that will secure a smart city’s future. ‌ The research will build on the work in the NRF/MND-funded project Future of Cities – Living with Technology: Future of Work, Education and Healthcare to explore the following: 

  • Examining in detail the relationship between tasks, skills, work, education technologies, and their contribution to employment growth; 
  • Building prototypes of tools and databases to demonstrate their efficacy to help workers and students better prepare for disruption, and to better transition if and when they are displaced. 

Details of projects that have been seeded and scaled can be found under Future of Cities II – Future Digital Economies and Digital Societies. 

Smart Tools 

What tools do smart people need to build smart government, businesses, and communities? 

A city is only as smart as what its people do with technology. It is not what technologies are, but what technologies do, and what we do with them that make them useful. Smart cities result from people transforming technologies into tools that deliver social and economic outcomes. These tools empower people, make more responsive policies, build more productive businesses, and enable more inclusive community engagement. All these can in turn ensure a society stays strong and prosperous, and not efficient but divided. 

Examples include the tools and databases found under Smart Work and Education (see above), and Smart Scaling (see below).‌ 

Smart Scaling 

How can smart tools scale across a network of smart cities for greater impact? 

Many smart city technology test-beds have difficulty scaling beyond the pilot phase. Cities and companies – especially small ones – also find it challenging to scale their innovations to the region and beyond. The faster and easier such tools and innovations can propagate across a network of cities, the greater their likely impact, and their potential to attract the resources needed. 

An example of our research is the SUTD-MTC International Design Centre project on Smart Recycling with Dr Lyle Fearnley (building on the work in the LKYCIC Future of Cities – Sustainable Futures project, and the LKYCIC Future of Cities – Living with Technology project); 

The Honk! Prototype app that resulted from this, developed in collaboration with Singapore company LDR Technology, was awarded the SG Mark (the “Singapore Good Design Mark is a benchmark of good design and quality“) and featured in Singapore’s national newspapers and TV channels 


  • Presentation at the Creative Bureaucracy Festival (by the Falling Walls Foundation)