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Singapore - the next digital revolution

Written by  Dr Tan Chin Nam
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Author's PictureIssue:Asia-Pacific III 2008
Article no.:4
Topic:Singapore - the next digital revolution
Author:Dr Tan Chin Nam
Title:Chairman
Organisation:Media Development Authority (MDA)
PDF size:230KB

About author

Dr Tan Chin Nam is currently Chairman of the Media Development Authority (MDA), which is responsible for development and promotion of the film, broadcast, print and publishing industry in Singapore. Dr Tan is also Chairman of the Board of Temasek Management Services, as well as the current or past Advisor, Director, Secretary, Board Member, Chairman, and the like of a great many other important industry, academic, governmental and public service organizations. Dr Tan has received a great many significant medals, awards, fellowships and the like in recognition of his distinguished services on behalf of the Public Administration and for contributions to economic development - from the Singapore Armed Forces, the National Trades Union, the computing sector and the travel sector - and as a media personality. Dr Tan Chin Nam earned degrees in Industrial Engineering and Economics from the University of Newcastle, Australia under a Colombo Plan Scholarship and Singapore President’s Scholarship, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom. He completed an Advanced Management Programme at the Harvard Business School and was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree by the University of Bradford and an Honorary Doctor of Engineering Degree by the University of Newcastle.

 

Article abstract

Singapore has determined to become a regional and a world leader in the next generation of digital technologies. To this end, Singapore is building a Next-Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII) consisting of countrywide pervasive wireless and ultra-high-speed wired networks known as the Next Generation National Broadband Network (Next-Gen NBN). This infrastructure will serve as Singapore’s engine of growth and support its strategy to use interactive and digital media (IDM) to support innovation in the media sector.

 

Full Article

Enabled by rising broadband and wireless penetration, and aided by digitisation, the digital revolution is changing the way media content and services are produced, distributed and consumed. New services and new experiences are being created in the broadcast, multimedia and entertainment industries. This exciting area that we call interactive and digital media, or IDM, is set to create fresh sources of innovation for the media sector and has been identified as an engine of growth for Singapore. IDM is also expected to drive use of the next generation of Internet. Singapore’s move into IDM is predicated on its robust and increasingly sophisticated IT infrastructure. The country has made great strides towards pervasive Internet access. With 7,200 wireless hotspots available in the country and 82.5 per cent of its households enjoying broadband access, Singapore is one of the most connected cities in the world. As elsewhere, it is the young who are leading the way in Internet use. Users between the ages of 15 and 24 have grown up with the Internet and cannot imagine life without it. As a result, 45 per cent of this group embraces instant messaging, 24 per cent spend their time on social networking sites and 16 per cent read blogs. Interestingly, it is the older crowd that tends to make phone calls over the Internet. Currently, 24 per cent of Internet users over 60 use Internet telephony. Singaporeans are also using the Internet for online banking, interacting with the government, online learning and remote access. To meet the demand for such growth, Singapore will be building a Next-Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII) that includes a pervasive wireless network and an ultra-high-speed wired network for the country. Known as the Next-Generation National Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN), when ready in 2015, consumers and businesses will see a more vibrant and competitive broadband market emerging with myriad next-generation services available. It will also better position Singapore as a hub for the aggregation and distribution of digital media assets. Spurring innovation in IDM Five years since the Media Development Authority’s (MDA) launch of the Media 21 blueprint, which outlines Singapore’s vision and strategic thrusts for the media sector, Singapore’s media infrastructure is in place and constantly improving. Homegrown talents are making a name for themselves overseas and ‘Made-in-Singapore’ content has attracted increased demand worldwide. In addition, international digital media companies such as Lucasfilm Animation, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Genki and Koei Entertainment have set up operations here. Singapore’s excellent IT infrastructure has also enabled the country to gear itself up to provide a conducive environment for the exchange of information and ideas, the preferred place for innovation in IDM and creation of multi-platform content. The upcoming Next Gen NBN will also allow the Singapore media companies to ride on digitization trends to create and exploit new business models, content, applications and services. By encouraging innovation in digital media, Singapore has put in place an overarching strategy to create a sustainable ecosystem that is the source of innovation for the media sector and to synergise four key groups of stakeholders, namely institutes of higher learning (IHLs), industry players, start-ups and individuals and schools. The results have been encouraging. Our IHLs have established their own IDM research and innovation centres. We have also successfully attracted international IHLs to set up research centres in Singapore, such as the GAMBIT GameLab, a cooperative effort between Singapore and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that works on game research projects, China-Singapore Institute of Digital Media of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Keio University, one of the top universities in Japan. Singapore working with internationally renowned media institutions such as the Digipen Institute of Technology and New York Tisch School of the Arts offers educational media programmes and has also established itself as a hotbed for nurturing media talents. Our schools are also seeing quite a bit of action. Through the FutureSchools@Singapore programme, our schools are leveraging IDM to develop new teaching methods and learning frameworks, thereby generating exciting learning possibilities. Other growth milestones include the embracing of new media by local flagship media companies, some of which have invested heavily in IDM R&D to create innovative services and IDM research labs. We have also unleashed grassroots innovation in IDM and some young start-ups have successfully attracted funding from private investors to take their ideas to the next stage. There have been remarkable developments in the broadcast technology areas, too with new and innovative services to leverage the offerings of broadband network to consumers. There are currently seven commercial and trial video-on-demand and Internet Protocol TV, or IPTV, service providers offering more than 125 TV channels in Singapore. This includes SingTel’s mioTV that provides viewers access to about 40 local and overseas TV channels. A new Web TV service, called The Straits Times Razor TV that offers live streaming and a video-on-demand option for those who want to control what they watch and when they watch it will also be available soon. Singapore is working on a framework to facilitate the commercial deployment of mobile TV, a new platform for content producers to showcase their products and generate sales, whilst offering new business and investment opportunities to both local and foreign media companies. This is also in line with the nation’s goal to develop Singapore as a test-bed for new media services. Next Gen NBN and New Asia Media The vast opportunities provided by the Next Gen NBN, which offers speeds of up to one Gigabit per second to meet the high-speed connectivity and mobility requirements of users, will establish Singapore as a trusted global capital for New Asia Media. New Asia Media, created by the explosion of convergent media and an economically resurgent Asia, is an exciting new opportunity for Asia and a driver of growth around the world. With Singapore’s IT infrastructure as a powerful enabler and its strategic location in the heart of Asia, Singapore is positioned to lead in this genre and excel in creating New Asia Media across multiple platforms. Even before this vision materialised, we have witnessed products with Asian themes or characters, which are either made-by or made-in-Singapore for distribution in diverse markets in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Some are now available as games on mobile platforms and interactive websites. Their success demonstrates the potential and promise found reinterpreting Asian stories and culture for a global market - an edge that Singapore has the capability to develop. To enhance the international appeal of our media content and services, and position Singapore as the gateway between Asia and the world, MDA has been expanding our international networks and strategic partnerships. Our partnerships include collaboration with Canal France International (CFI) on a France-Singapore Cross-Platform Programme Challenge to explore the creation of quality factual content that can be repurposed and distributed across multiple digital platforms. Another partnership with China’s Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (STCSM), develops cross-border online digital media test-beds for trial and prototyping purposes to leverage on emerging interactive new media services and technology. In driving the next-generation of Internet service, Singapore has further identified Co-space as the next generation of the Web where physical places coexist with dynamic, real-time, virtual environments and users can process and manipulate information seamlessly between both the physical and virtual space. The concept is a basic part of Singapore’s aspiration to be a player in the next-generation Internet, where the Web will become even more pervasive, immersive and integrated into our daily lives. Charging ahead in the new media landscape, MDA is working on a sharpened Media 21 plan - Singapore Media Fusion 2015 with a clear vision that leverages on the upcoming Next Gen NII, our capacity in IDM R&D and compelling talent development initiatives. With this, Singapore will be poised to thrive in the utilisation of the next-generation Internet.

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