TIANJIN: As Singapore and China work together on creating smart, sustainable cities, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has called on Singapore companies to seize the opportunities that come with it.
These could be in areas such as urban planning and design, as well as on the technology front.
Mr Heng made the comments to the media on Wednesday (Oct 16) during his first visit to Tianjin Eco-City – the second government-to-government project between Singapore and China.
Now in its 11th year of development, Mr Heng said both countries are looking at they can set the vision for the “next level of development”.
For instance, Singapore is working with China to turn the Eco-city into a Zero Waste City.
It was selected by China to be one of 16 such cities in April and is the only international collaboration project involved.
During the trial period, which ends in December next year, both sides intend to develop a zero-waste masterplan, implement policies to support innovation and experimentation, and test out advanced waste management technologies.
These could possibly be adapted and transposed to other parts of China eventually.
Making the Eco-City a smart city is also on the cards, with the likes of autonomous public buses and smart carparks being tested.
During his visit, Mr Heng visited an operations centre built last year, where city-wide data is monitored and analysed to allow better delivery of services.
There are plans to pilot a live digital modelling tool to improve city planning next.
“There is a lot of benefit because we are working with various parties to try different ways in which we can pilot new ideas and look at how we can bring it to scale,” said Mr Heng.
“In that way, what is tried here can be brought back to Singapore, and what is tried in Singapore can be extended to other places. In fact, we can look at how these projects which we are doing can be extended to many other parts of the world.”
Mr Heng added that there are broad opportunities for Singapore companies.
“Singapore is an excellent testbed for many of these new developments and innovation. But to realise its full potential, we will have to extend this across the whole world and in particular, Asia,” said Mr Heng.
“Asia is going through a period of rapid urbanisation. What works in one city is likely to be useful to many other cities around the world. For us, if we put a strong emphasis on what works for Singapore, then I think we have many opportunities to extend our solutions to others.”
REPLICATING THE TIANJIN ECO-CITY EXPERIENCE
Another key goal moving forward is to replicate the Eco-City development experience in other Chinese cities, as well as in countries along the Belt and Road.
A memorandum of understanding on this was signed on Tuesday in Chongqing.
Speaking to Singapore media at the Eco-City, Second National Development Minister Desmond Lee said replication work had begun even before the agreement was signed.
Mr Lee, who was appointed as Singapore’s Minister-in-Charge of Tianjin Eco-City in August, said many officials from other parts of China have visited the Eco-City to see how it is planned, maintained and continues to “push the boundaries of green sustainable living”.
Water rehabilitation methods used in the Eco-City are also being looked at to clean up the Baiyangdian lake basin in the Xiong’an area.
“Work has already begun in earnest. We’ll work together with our partners, inter-government, corporate to corporate, to explore opportunities in different cities and countries along the (Belt and Road),” said Mr Lee.
“Each city, each country will have a different pace of development, different needs, and applying the learning from Tianjin Eco-City as well as from the joint research we’re going to undertake together will allow our companies from both China and Singapore as well as other partners to be able to explore such developments in those places.”
Earlier on Wednesday, a new one-stop co-working office initiative was launched at the Eco-City.
Known as the Singapore Centre, it will support businesses looking to grow their presence in the Eco-City, as well as in Tianjin and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.
There are now more than 100,000 people living or working in the Eco-City, up from 20,000 compared to 2014.
There are 8,200 registered companies, covering areas such as information technology and energy conservation.