CHEN TIANQIAO PROGRAMME ON URBAN INNOVATION:
SMART CITIES LAB

Lead: Mr Poon King Wang (LKYCIC, SUTD)
Team: Dr Andy Zheng, Dr Samuel Chng, Ms Julienne Chen, Mr Norakmal Hakim bin Norhashim, Ms Sarah Gan Li Hui, Mr Mohamed Salihin Subhan, Dr Gayathri Haridas, Mr Thijs Willems, Mr Galvyn Goh Zi An, Ms Holly Lynn Apsley (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 :

  1. 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.‌
  2. 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.‌
  3. 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.
COMMENCED
1 May 2015
STATUS
Ongoing
PARTNERS AND SPONSORS
Chen Tianqiao

Teaching and Education

The LKYCIC leads in teaching the Smart Cities elective course in SUTD’s Master of Science in Urban Science, Policy and Planning. The curriculum outline can be found at Smart Cities: Digital Economies and Digital Societies in the 4IR.

Research Projects

The above three thrusts guide the projects that will be pursued. It is envisioned that each of the projects pursued will fall into at least two of the above thrusts.

  • Smart Work and Education
    Lead: Mr Poon King Wang
    Collaborator(s): team members from Living with Technology: Future of Work, Education, and Healthcare

    This project will explore a task-based approach to work and education, with the goal of helping people thrive better even as technology disrupts economy and society. It will build on the work in the NRF/MND-funded project Future of Cities – Living with Technology: Future of Work, Education and Healthcare. The project will have two components:

    • 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.
  • Smart and Scaleable
    Lead: 
    Dr Andy Zheng
    Collaborator(s): 
    project-specific – see below

    This project will explore how cities and companies can scale their innovative solutions (e.g. smart tools) from pilot phase to other cities. It will build on the experiences of a small set of emerging smart tools; it will also examine emerging models in areas such as the globalisation of expertise networks, sharing economy and e-commerce.To explore the question for scale with speed, this project will convene discussions with interested entrepreneurs, scholars and policy makers, in an effort to search for answers. For the initial set of smart tools, the project has identified a few potential projects:

    • IDC 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);
    • Potential collaboration with Aspiring Citizens Cleantech, on its data exchange for mobility services;
    • Potential collaboration with a sharing economy company.
  • Community Engagement – Voices in the City
    Lead: Ms Julienne ChenThis research track consists of two key projects:

    Co-creating the city: social innovation and ground-up initiatives in Singapore


    We live in a world where citizens increasingly expect, and are expected, to play an active role in shaping their cities and surrounding environment. Against the backdrop of a growing emphasis on public participation, community engagement, and government-citizen interaction, this research project seeks to understand how residents aim to co-create their city through initiating informal ground-up initiatives. These initiatives are often effective at identifying and testing innovative solutions that address social challenges from the perspective of the resident, creating vital feedback loops to the functioning of the “official” urban system.This project engages with ground-up initiatives in Singapore that interface with a range of social causes, including poverty, environment, arts and recreation, animal welfare and ageing.We ask, what is their experience in starting and sustaining a ground-up initiative? How do they engage with peers and institutions to navigate new, often unregulated, territory? We also examine how the initiatives define their success and the extent to which they are able to diffuse their insights and innovations. Through interviews, surveys, workshops and design prototypes, we consider opportunities and lessons learned for cities that are interested in engaging with their residents to co-create a more responsive, inclusive city.More information about this project can be found at the project website: co-create.city

    Participation Coder

    The role of public participation in urban planning and governance has long been a topic of debate. One of the fundamental questions is whether the substantial efforts that are made to derive feedback or ideas from the public are effective in terms of shaping outcomes (e.g., changing policy). One of the core challenges is that despite increasingly sophisticated efforts to engender participation, we still have relatively low-grade tools to assess and incorporate the responses that are received from participation. This problematic has only compounded as new digital engagement tools have opened up additional channels to participate, and subsequently, increased the volume of feedback and responses to be considered.

    The starting point of this research questions whether the design of existing engagement tools is effective to stimulate input that is useful for urban planning and policy making processes. To consider this question, we develop an evaluation framework to assess what is “high quality” public input, in addition to a web-based tool to quickly and reliably code the inputs against this framework. The coding allows us to more systematically assess what topics are of importance to the participants, and surface ideas and responses that meet desired criteria such as novelty or feasibility. Further, by comparing the overall quality of input across different channels (e.g., in-person and digital – online, text, mobile), we can better understand the impact that an increasingly digitized world can have on public participation.