small resource constraint nation, dependent on the outside world for its most basic needs including food, energy and even water, Singapore recognises the importance of aligning itself to international benchmarks.
One year after it became a sovereign nation in 1966, Singapore’s standards’ unit, which came under the ambit of the Economic Development Board’s Industrial Research Unit, became a full member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In the same year, it issued its first standard, the Singapore Standard on Timber and Primer, as timber was one of Singapore’s key exports.
Since then, Singapore’s standardisation programme has grown in sync with the expanding economy. Today, there are over 700 Singapore Standards, including Codes of Practice (CP) and Technical References (TR).
As quality and standards will continue to be a key enabler in supporting innovation, Singapore has ramped up its standardisation efforts to support the deployment of novel technologies, products and services even as they are being developed. Over the past year, industry-led Singapore Standards Council (SSC) published 19 new standards, including the SS 642 : 2019 for Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System, the TR61 for parcel lockers and the TR 68 for autonomous vehicles.
Busy calendar ahead
More can be expected as the SSC steps up its standardisation efforts to keep pace with economic transformation and novel technologies. By March 2020, over 40 new standards are expected to be published, including standards for additive manufacturing and drones. Development of the new standards will involve stakeholders from industry, trade associations, academia and government organisations.
“As the market continues to evolve with new developments and technological disruptions, it is increasingly important for SSC to tap the expertise and knowledge of the industry so that the development of new standards is in parallel and cognisant of new trends,” said the SSC.
Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing is a game changer, disrupting businesses and supply chains. Market intelligence provider International Data Corporation estimates global spending on 3D printing, including hardware, materials, software and services, could be worth US$13.8 billion in 2019, up 21 percent over 2018, increasing further to US$22.7 billion by 2022.
Singapore has identified 3D printing as a new area of growth and has invested S$500 million since 2013 in 3D printing under its Future of Manufacturing scheme. To support the adoption of 3D printing technologies by industry, the new standard which is being developed will set safety requirements for the design, operation and maintenance of additive manufacturing facilities.
Originally created as safer, cheaper alternatives to manned military aircraft, drones are increasingly used in commercial operations. As they become more affordable, these unmanned aerial vehicles are being deployed for a multitude of purposes, to deliver parcels, detect emissions from ships to ensure compliance to environmental standards as well as inspect buildings.
With thousands of multi-storey buildings across the city, Singapore’s current focus is on the use of drones for building inspection. It’s faster, safer and cheaper to use drones fitted with cameras to inspect for possible building defects as compared with human inspections. With drones even inaccessible and poorly visible areas can be reached. The downside though is privacy and ground security.
The new standard which is being developed will have to cover building inspection guidelines as well as public safety and privacy protection. It will be applicable for facade inspection of all buildings, irrespective of whether they are residential, industrial or commercial.
“Quality and standards have supported our economic growth and will continue to shape Singapore’s future. It will underpin innovation, facilitate market access for enterprises and drive interoperability. It is important that public and private sector stakeholders come forward and lead the development of critical standards for Singapore,” said Mr Robert Chew, Chairman of SSC and Managing Partner of iGlobe Partners.
Global standard needed to secure smart devices
Even as Singapore develops national standards in response to domestic requirements, it recognises there are areas which demand a universal approach. High on the list is the Internet of Things (IoTs).
IoT is growing at a staggering rate. By 2020, the number of Internet connected devices will breach 20 billion, more than double the global population, and it is changing the way people live, do business and even interact with their governments.
As anything attached to a network can be hacked, there are growing fears over security and safety. Consumer privacy and safety can be undermined by breaches on individual devices and connectivity. The wider economy and critical infrastructures can also be attacked by large-scale cyber-attacks launched from massive numbers of unsecured IoT devices.
In collaboration with its Dutch counterpart, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency (CSA) undertook a one-year study on the threat landscape posed by IoT. Published in September 2019, the study, ‘The IoT Security Landscape’ called on governments around the world to step up and play a more active role in tightening legislation and drive the development of standards to improve the security of IoT devices.
The joint study noted, “Since IoT is a global phenomenon and is not limited by national boundaries, it is essential to align country-specific legislation and adopt a coherent global approach to IoT security... We have seen few government-led global initiatives.”
In making their call for change, the study pointed to the massive Internet outage on 12 October2016 when a piece of malware called Mirai triggered a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack leaving much of the Internet inaccessible in the US east coast.
“Vulnerable IoT devices are deployed fast globally and with unknown lifespan, while... common standards and technical solutions for cyber security in IoT are lacking,” said the joint study. “This creates safety, environmental and social hazards that are not well understood and likely to be unacceptable for society.”
With the exponential growth in the number of IoT devices, there is little time to spare. Certification for IoT devices could be similar to the international ISO 9000 quality management system with some baseline measures such as over-the-air security firmware updates for IoT devices.