Singapore aims to go intelligent

SINGAPORE is on track to become by 2000 a push-button electronic city - or, officially, an Intelligent Island.

Singaporeans can already press a few buttons on a bank's automated teller machine and apply for shares, get stock market data on a pocket-sized pager, dial up for pointers on health care and phone in tax returns on incomes of up to US$12,740 (about HK$98,098) a year.

And, under the Government's IT (Information Technology) 2000 plan, all computers in virtually every home, office, school and factory will be interconnected.

One in four Singapore households already owns a computer, but only about 10 per cent are now connected to modems for external communication.

''The vision is to transform Singapore into an Intelligent Island where the people will have access to on-line information and services, anywhere, any time,'' said state National Computer Board (NCB) chief executive Ko Kheng Hwa.

''We see the dawn of a new information age by the year 2000, the next revolution after telephones,'' Mr Ko said. There would be fewer mundane chores for Singaporeans and they ''will have more discretionary time.'' NCB said by 2000 it would be technologically feasible for Singaporeans to work, shop and bank from home via a large electronic screen by pushing some keys or using voice commands.


The screen will receive and transmit pictures and information to other screens. It will be a computer, television, telephone, a video camera and a player - all rolled into one.

By around 2000, for example, a person could be able to dial up from home to connect a home computer screen with a tailor's shop and select the design, size and colour of garments on display.

Next, an image of the home dialler would come on-screen ''wearing'' various electronic mock-ups on the screen to help the person decide what to order.

''The scenario, I believe, will largely be realised. Technologically, it is possible,'' Mr Ko said. The key question, would be market demand, he said.


In 1996, Singapore will launch an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system. Selected ERP entry points will automatically debit a motorist's stored value smartcard fixed to a vehicle as it passes a point to enter restricted business districts.

By around the end of the decade, it should also be possible to touch an icon on a television screen placed at an information kiosk, read the reviews of the latest concerts or cinemas, and select and pay for seats from bank accounts, Mr Ko said.