The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore on Wednesday chose an unusual way of illustrating the progress it has made on its smart nation strategy: a remote controlled quadcopter that looked for all intents and purposes like a drone.
The unmanned aerial vehicle noisily delivered a modified Arduino – a basic programmable computer – to Steve Leonard, deputy chairman of the IDA, while he was on stage during CommunicAsia. Leonard's task was to explain how the regulator uses Arduinos in workshops aimed at teaching school-age students about programming, a scheme that falls within the scope of Singapore's smart nation initiative.
As outlined by Leonard at CommunicAsia 2013, smart nation's principle aim is to deploy countless sensors all over the country and use the data they collect to improve peoples' lives.
To realise this vision, the IDA has over the past 12 months been focusing on areas such as dynamic spectrum access, data analytics, the aforementioned school workshops, and an accreditation scheme that makes it easier for tech start-ups to bid for government contracts.
"We're making some progress," Leonard said, adding that the IDA is trying to attract new companies and people to come to Singapore. "We're going to work hard to make Singapore a great place for analytics professionals."
Exactly why a drone was chosen as a delivery vehicle for an Arduino is still anyone's guess though. It certainly doesn't scream smart nation when in all likelihood it is being piloted by someone using an iPhone app. There was also the risk that something would go wrong and it would plummet out of control into the audience. Happily that didn't happen and attendees were left unscathed but a little bemused.
"We practiced that a lot last night, said Leonard, after the drone had made its exit. "Sometimes it went well, other times not so well."