Michael On Everything Else

Great Tech

They take advantage of technology in some great ways here in Singapore…

For example, we just opened our local bank account. To start, we registered with an automated kiosk that issued us a number based on our transaction type. Unfortunately we went on a Friday afternoon and waited an hour and fifteen minutes just to get in but then it only took about twenty minutes to open an account, which included, by default, two-factor authentication for online banking via the keypad pictured below. The account also included on-the-spot issued bank cards that are magnetic stripe, chip and pin, as well as ez-link enabled, which means they are also smart cards for the transport system (using NFC technology).

The train system, or MRT is not only clean and efficient, but it has some cool tech as well. All paper tickets are NFC-enabled, not magnetic stripe, which means you just get them close to the reader and it will work. You can also get smart cards that top-up automatically, and as mentioned above, you can get a bank card that can also be used to pay for your MRT rides (bus and train). To top up your ticket, you place it on the NFC reader on the kiosk, as seen in the picture below.

MRT standard ticket, ticket top-up kiosk, and inside a paper ticket

The new MRT trains also have easy-to-read signage inside the cars themselves. Seen below is a map of the train line with green lights indicating the next few stops, a red light indicating the next stop, and also lights to indicate which side of the train the door will open (the lights are difficult to see in the picture). In addition to the map over the door, there are also over-head LED marquees that indicate the next stop as well as overhead announcements.

The train stations are also very clean because it’s a closed-tube system (my term, I made that up), which means there are doors separating the train tube from the station, which keeps the dirt and grime from the tracks out of the station. If you’ve spent any time in the London Underground or New York’s Subway, you’ll be too familiar with the black boogers that are caused by breathing in the dirt and grime.

Last night we went out to check out a neighborhood near an apartment we’d like to rent. The bar uses iPads for menus and the interface is actually intuitive and useful and the system is quick. As soon as we placed our order, a server stopped by and verified it. Service in Singapore is largely lacking, but in this case, it helped.

iPad menu at eM By The River

So far I’ve been pleased with the technology infrastructure in Singapore. There is a strong 4G cellular network, pervasive wireless access, and a smart public transport system. Now if they could just implement one, big, island-wide air conditioning system, we’d be set!