Urban Governance and Smart City Planning

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Lessons from Singapore



Table of contents

(7 chapters)

This introductory chapter sets the scene by introducing the island city-state of Singapore from a historical standpoint and expands on its economical ascension as a result of its strong political governance structure. This chapter also highlights how the role of the urban form has gained from this perspective. Singapore's strategic geographic location played a pivotal part in boosting its role in trade, both regionally and internationally, hence enabling the country to assert a strong geopolitical position and grow economic stronghold. This helped the country to successfully invest in its urban fabric, and is now a world leader in regards to high liveability standards.


Singapore's rapid gain in notoriety is most certainly due to Lee Kwan Yew's strong political governance structures and vision that led the country towards an ambitious development strategy. Given the pressing challenges of the time, his top-down leadership style, which led to Singapore's success, was often associated to being counter-conducive to participatory planning. Today, as cities seek liveability over functionality and efficiency, there is a need for enhanced public participation to build a more robust civil society. This calls for a change in Singapore's governance structures which are currently being accelerated through the use of technology.


Rapid urbanisation coupled with the increasing impacts from climate change adds numerous challenges to cities and countries. This renders difficulties for devising urban governance models that are resilient, safe and inclusive while preserving what is left of the environment. The issue of regenerating green spaces, while mitigating climate change, with an aim to increase sustainability has been the subject of numerous research studies, but there has been no country that has managed to achieve high levels of commitment and success than that of Singapore. This chapter reviews the approach of Singapore and shares insights on the techniques and key projects that have contributed to the uplifting of its liveability levels.

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