Singapore is globe's leader in mobility, followed by Hong Kong in Asia

20 April 2018 Consultancy.asia

Singapore has been identified in a new study as the world’s most mobility-friendly city. Hong Kong is the only other Asian city to make the top ten with the remaining number being all European cities. The study by management consulting firm Arthur D. Little looks at both the maturity and performance of existing infrastructure as well as innovation and strategy for the future. 

The city state has put in place adequate infrastructure and is a breeding ground for innovation that will help it face increased mobility challenges. Singapore moved from 6th place in 2013 to 1st place this year due to the country’s innovation and strategy, which includes the implementation of a number of smart-mobility programs to increase urban mobility including bike sharing initiatives, big-data analytics and a relatively relaxed regulatory environment to new developments in the self-driving vehicle sphere. 

Arthur D. Little is a leading consultancy specialised in innovation and technology. The consulting firm has been working to create opportunity out of challenges that will no doubt occur in rapidly urbanising cities. Today the number of mega-cities with a population of over 10 million is just under 30, but by 2030 that number is set to skyrocket to 412. 

The rise of mega-cities has been driven through a combination of exponential population growth and economic prosperity of the urban environment. However, greater urban populations cause a strain on the environment and agricultural systems whilst causing logistical problems in energy, transport and mobility. 

The consulting firm supports multinational enterprises, entrepreneurs and the public sector in creating strategies which put citizens needs at the centre of smart-city adaptation policy. It has detailed five key challenges which could limit social and economic prosperity; population density, pollution, urban health, security issues and the growing need for connectivity and mobility.

The future of mobility will be urban

Singapore takes the top spot 

Singapore is a world leader in adapting to these issues and implements a comprehensive smart-city strategy which uses technological initiatives to solve complex urban issues. Technological developments are driving the field of innovation in smart-cities, and big data, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and new compact forms of energy have shaken up mobility options.

Coupled with traditionally high costs for car owners, public initiatives and digital innovation have led the transformation of Singapore's mobility sector. The government of Singapore has been developing their own autonomous mobility system and a set of principles to govern autonomous vehicles. The country already tests autonomous vehicles of levels 4 & 5 with passengers inside, driverless taxi’s are operating on small circuits, and the country is promoting the development of autonomous ride-share systems. 

“Autonomous vehicles are fast on its way to becoming a reality on our roads…They can enhance the efficiency and convenience of our land transportation system. Thus, it is important that we do not impede their growth as some cities have done,” said Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng. 

The country has also recently progressed in the bike-sharing sector. Singaporean start-up oBike, has grown its fleet internationally to have over a million bikes across 60 cities. The concept behind the platform is that it is station-less, meaning that bikes can be parked anywhere within public bike parking areas and locked through the app.

Three strategic directions for cities

Public mobility in Singapore

Whilst innovation is an important factor for what makes a city into a smart-city, traditional initiatives including public transport and encouraging bike riding also impact mobility. Singapore has a massive public transport initiative which is unrivalled in any of its European counterparts. 

The report indicates that Singaporeans utilise their public transport system more than any other city, with the study showing the city usage at 53%. Hong Kong closely tails with the second highest use of public transport (at 52%), and together the two cities have substantially cheaper public transport than any European city within the top ten. 

Singaporeans use public transport at the frequency that they do, due to both the efficiency and span of the network. High level demand has driven developments in the network and mobility platforms including CityMapper and NextRide made commuting in Singapore relatively painless. Another initiative which has no doubt enhanced public transport use on the island is the CEPAS card which is integrating a ‘one size fits all’ approach to transactions across multiple platforms.

The overall results find that even the two top Asian cities must work on similar areas to improve their ratings. Firstly, the country has an underdeveloped cycle-lane network which sits at half the global average. In comparison to Copenhagen, Singapore has roughly one tenth of the amount of cycle path per km², only being under done by Hong Kong which barely made the register.

Arthur D. Little Urban Mobility Index 3.0 – City ranking

Improving mobility 

The study shows that there is still much to be done around the globe to improve mobility in general. Developing countries in Asia and Africa that are feeling the biggest drive towards urbanisation are also experiencing a strain on their urban mobility systems. Due to poor planning and rapid population growth in relatively small areas, there is much room for improvement in these areas.

Asia-Pacific as a whole scored above all other regions except for Europe. The ratings were based on a number of indicators within three sections spanning innovation, performance and maturity of mobility. Each country received a score out of 100 with the maximum of 59.3% going to Singapore. Stockholm and Amsterdam followed at 57.1% and 56.1% respectively with the next Asian city being Hong Kong at 54.2%. 

The rankings showed above average indicators for Tokyo (50%) and Seoul (45.8%) with three Chinese cities (Shanghai, Shenzhen & Guangzhou) between them. The Asia-Pacific region exhibited the broadest range in scores. Melbourne and Sydney fell in the middle of the ranking, and Hanoi (29.1), Delhi (31.5) and Jaipur (31.9) sit at the bottom of the list.

Big Four give tick to enterprise initiatives in Singapore 2019 budget

20 February 2019 Consultancy.asia

The Singapore budget has landed for 2019, and the Big Four professional services firms have been quick to weigh in – giving their thumbs-up to a range of business development initiatives.

Singapore's Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat has delivered the city-state’s ‘expansionary’ 2019 budget – aimed at building “a strong, united Singapore” – with a raise in GST from 7 to 9 percent, a ‘Bicentennial Bonus’ for lower income groups, and a S$1 billion package to help businesses build deep capabilities among the announcements. Following the budget release, the Big Four were quick to respond.

“As the Finance Minister promised, SG Budget 2019 is progressive and builds on the measures and initiatives put in place in the past couple years,” Deloitte Singapore and Southeast Asia Regional Managing Partner for Tax Low Hwee Chua said. “It continues the recent focus on driving enterprise innovation and growth; increasing productivity of Singaporean workers and strengthening the social framework.”

Following on from last year’s budget in which it was announced a tax would be levied on imported professional services from 2020, this year has seen a tightening on foreign worker ratios in the services sector – together with a number of new and expanded initiatives aimed at developing Singapore into a world-leading talent and innovation hub, including an extension of the state’s professional conversion programme, of which Deloitte is a consulting sector participant.Big Four give tick to enterprise initiatives in Singapore 2019 budget“The Finance Minister sees an external environment with continuing geopolitical uncertainty, a continuation of the digital revolution and slowing global growth,” PwC Global Tax Markets Leader Peter Le Huray said in summary. “The Budget response is a focus on security, particularly cyber security and a targeted approach to expediting digital skills and re-skilling the workforce with less reliance on foreign manpower.”

Among the enterprise initiatives, altogether worth S$1 billion, are two new customised programmes – Scale-up SG and Innovation Agents – to respectively help high-growth local firms to innovate, build new capabilities, and expand overseas and to provide other firms with mentorship and consultation on innovation opportunities from industry experts through a matching process. The government will also provide even greater support for enterprise and government digitisation efforts.

The response to the measures from the consulting sector has been widely positive, with Ernst & Young’s Head of Tax Services Soh Pui Ming stating; “Transformation is a journey, not a destination. Budget 2019 recognises this, and continues to provide support to help Singapore enterprises to deepen capabilities, innovate and internationalise in order to compete in the new global economy.”

Tay Hong Beng, KPMG Singapore’s Head of Tax, concludes; “In deepening enterprise capabilities, it’s important that the Government has recognised the need to provide and tailor-make support and assistance to businesses based on their differing stages of development and needs. This is a good departure from the traditional broad brush approach which may not meet the needs of businesses.”