By Chee Kit Ho, Director, Corporate Accounts and FM Support, Singapore

Picture yourself in Punggol New Town sometime in the near future. Most vehicles on the road harness clean energy and are fully automated, such as a driverless pod that you can take to get around Singapore’s first “Enterprise District.”

With a single key stroke on a handheld device, you have the option to summon a driverless cab available from the nearest location possible so waiting time is minimised, making transport the next big utility after water. Drone fleets that carry urgent documents and goods such as medicine whizz by alongside the pod you are taking. Travellators replace the majority of sidewalks, ready to carry you across various points within the district.

Far-fetched? Not for Punggol North, which has been slated to drive Singapore’s Smart Nation initiatives. The Smart Nation program, which was launched in late 2014 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, is a sweeping effort that will likely touch the lives of every single resident in Singapore. At the heart of Singapore’s effort to realize its plans as a smart nation is a “superpowered, X-ray version of Google maps” that has the ability to capture and store a wealth of information about buildings, such as how the users of the building are interfacing with various aspects of the building’s facilities.

The repository of applications, data and information complemented by complex analytical power will provide us with the ability to create self-service recovery plans. For example, in government homes specially catered to the elderly located within Punggol North, sensors will be installed in the bathrooms so families can use the analytics to remotely find out if there is a problem, and whether something can be rectified without human intervention.

A typical facility team within Punggol North could be nearly unrecognisable to today’s managers. With data driving the bulk of insights and operations in a smart building, a facility management team of the future will not just comprise of engineers and technicians. IT specialists, data analysts, and programmers will also be part of this new team integral to ensuring a building is running as smoothly as possible.

Deepening and updating our skillsets is therefore crucial in ensuring that our workforce stays relevant in the face of change and competition. At Cushman & Wakefield, we recognise that our people are our core assets, and there is heavy emphasis placed on continual training and development to ensure our teams are kept up to date with the latest developments in the facility management space.

Smart cities and next-generation buildings will allow for far more connectivity with its users, which in turn will enable new ways of working, living, and playing. Innovative approaches to facility management will need to be considered and adopted in order for firms to stay competitive in the near future.

Ho-Chee-Kit_SmallChee Kit heads the Corporate Client group, and provides overall leadership for operational excellence, account management, and financial performance focusing on corporate customers. In addition, he is responsible for the Building Engineering team and Contact Centre, and ensures the smooth delivery of facility management services to meet client needs.