Punggol Digital District (PDD) is shaping up well to become Singapore’s first smart business district, well ahead of 2024 when the District progressively opens. At the inaugural PDD: Connecting Smartness event today, Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Gan Kim Yong announced the first batch of international companies that have confirmed their plans to set up base in PDD – Boston Dynamics, Delta Electronics Int’l (Singapore), Group-IB and Wanxiang. The latter two will be locating their regional headquarters in PDD. Collectively, over 2,000 tech jobs ranging from threat hunters, digital forensics and data analysts, solution engineers, to AI and Blockchain developers will be brought to PDD. These provide good job opportunities for Singaporeans and will equip them with future-ready digital skills.
Unveiled in 2018, the 50-hectare smart and sustainable mixed-use district is masterplanned by JTC as a showcase of Singapore’s Smart Nation and digital economy plans. PDD’s collaborative digital ecosystem, with partnership opportunities with industry, researchers, academia, and government agencies is a key draw for businesses. Future home to Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT)’s new campus with more than 10,000 students and 500 academic staff, the district is Singapore’s first business park where academic and office spaces are intertwined. This means that businesses will have access to talent from SIT at close quarters while students will benefit from a full-fledged applied learning environment. PDD also serves as a living lab for companies, students and public to test digital and smart living solutions.
Each of the four international corporations are heavyweights in their respective field of digital technology - Boston Dynamics in robotics; Delta Electronics Int’l (Singapore) in smart living solutions; Group-IB in cybersecurity and Wanxiang in blockchain solutions. Each company brings plans to testbed solutions, collaborate with local industry players, nurture early stage startups and groom industry-ready talent in PDD.
Mr Tan Boon Khai, CEO of JTC, said, “We are taking a differentiated approach in building our next-generation districts. Apart from the smart infrastructure, emphasis is placed on building a holistic ecosystem that fosters collaborative partnerships and innovation, which value-adds to businesses even before they move into the district. These partnerships between the industry, academia and trade associations are exemplary of the environment that we are building to accelerate innovation.”.
A global leader in developing highly advanced mobile robots that can traverse rough terrain, Boston Dynamics is one of the four joining the PDD community. Boston Dynamics has been working with the Singapore government since September 2019, when the Spot robot was used by the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) to trial robotics applications. Through this collaboration, GovTech was able to use Spot to develop and test out its in-house robotics software stack. During the trial, Spot was used to deliver medicine and other essential supplies to patients in quarantine facilities; and assisted in safe distancing measures in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in 2020.
Now, Spot will be used in PDD to test real world use cases such as laser scanning of construction sites and inspecting remote or dangerous environment. On top of that, Boston Dynamics will also be partnering local startup dConstruct Technologies and SIT on the learning and applied research of robotics systems. Using Spot and dConstruct’s proprietary software programming tool, SIT students will be able to develop robotic solutions to improve campus experiences such as last-mile delivery and smart campus management.
Delta Electronics Int’l (Singapore), a global provider of power and thermal management solutions, launched their first automated container farm at PDD site gallery. The container farm is fitted out with Delta’s own industrial automation solutions, surveillance and power management systems. Unlike most hydroponics vertical farms, Delta’s farm solution can scale up its production with its modular system and produce up to 46 different types of vegetables and herbs while ensuring stable and constant supply of quality yield. The introduction of such IoT solution and automation process technology is part of Delta’s efforts to promote technological improvement and support Singapore’s food resilience efforts.
Delta also retrofitted the PDD site gallery with their IoT-based Building Automation Solutions such as lighting controls and video surveillance. This is seamlessly integrated into PDD’s Open Digital Platform, which allow remote monitoring and machine learning of usage patterns to optimise building performance. Utilising these smart installations as training tools, Delta will set up a PDD Smart Living Programme to nurture companies and educate next generation talents on smart living solutions.
With smart technologies come the need for cybersecurity. Group-IB is an international threat hunting and cyber intelligence company. A partner of INTERPOL and Europol, Group-IB will collaborate with SIT to design and engineer a virtual testing environment that is suitable for early stage companies and startups to test the vulnerability of their solutions to cyberattacks. Called PDD Cyberpolygon Sandzone, the virtual system will have the ability to stress test applications, solutions and even systems against cyberthreats.
To develop local talent in cybersecurity, Group-IB, SIT, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and cybersecurity community Division Zero came together to organise the inaugural PDD bug bounty programme. Students were given 4 hours to identify “bugs” that can compromise smart lighting and building management systems hosted on an isolated network managed by SIT. This gave students an opportunity to hone their skills in an actual operating environment. Such applied learning is an example of future cybersecurity activities that will be organised to nurture talents.
Similarly, Wanxiang, China’s blockchain industry leader, launched programmes with two local partners today. The first partnership with blockchain accelerator, Tribe, aims to nurture students and startups in data privacy and data management capabilities, while the second partnership with training provider, AGB Education Centre, targets mid-career professionals on building skillsets and providing certification in areas such as blockchain, AI and cloud computing.
In addition to the international players, PDD’s digital ecosystem will be further boosted by CSA, GovTech and a tech community network. PDD will house the highest concentration of cybersecurity associations in Singapore - made up of the Association of Information Security Professionals; Cloud Security Alliance Singapore Chapter; Centre for Strategic Cyberspace + International Studies; ISACA Singapore Chapter; and International Information System Security Certification Consortium Singapore Chapter. These associations, together with Cyber Youth Singapore, Division Zero, and SGTech, will curate activities such as international conferences, hackathons, seminars and networking sessions to expose and upskill students and mid-career job seekers in the digital tech arena.