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Fitbit to Provide Wearable Fitness Trackers in Collaboration With Singapore Government’s Health Initiative

The Singapore government is promoting healthy living amid rising cases of diabetes and heart disease.

by Meera Navlakha
23 August 2019, 4:10am

Photo by mentatdgt via Pexels.

Correction: This story originally said the Singapore government will provide the trackers. They will actually be provided by Fitbit. The devices will not automatically be supplied to 1 million people, rather it is Fitbit's goal to reach 1 million people. The Health Promotion Board is under the Singapore government, not Fitbit as previously stated. We regret the errors.

Sometimes, being in Singapore is like living in the future. Its skyline looks straight off a sci-fi movie and it’s been described as “dystopian” more than once. So it comes as no surprise that the city-state has partnered up San Francisco-based company Fitbit which will provide wearable health trackers for its citizens.

Fitbit won a bid to supply their activity trackers for Singapore’s ongoing health initiatives, the company announced on Wednesday. Citizens will be able to register for a Fitbit Inspire program, spending about $7.2 a month but without paying for the actual trackers. They can also get one-on-one fitness coaching and guidance, the company’s CEO told CNBC.

According to Reuters, a number of companies vied for the bid, including Apple.

This has proven to be a good step forward for Fitbit, whose stock fell by more than 50 percent in the last year because of competition from other smartwatch manufacturers like Apple. After the announcement of their Singapore deal, Fitbit’s stock went up by 3 percent in the New York Stock Exchange.

The deal with Singapore is part of the city-state’s health initiative called Live Healthy SG, set to launch in October. Cases of diabetes and heart disease are increasing in Singapore. In 2015, the International Diabetes Federation reported that the country had the second-highest proportion of diabetes cases in developed countries, motivating the government to step in. Although Singapore has the highest life expectancy in the world, the country’s aging population and increase in these health issues have caused concern.

The health program will implement technology to help Singaporeans move towards healthy lifestyles. Fitbit's goal is to provide trackers--which records things like heart rate, sleep cycles, and all sorts of exercise--to 1 million people across the country, nearly 20 percent of Singapore’s population.

Citizens can start registering for the program in September but the initiative will officially launch in October.

Zee Yoong Kang, CEO of Singapore's Health Promotion Board, said that the products will be used “to encourage Singaporeans to adopt healthy living affect behavior change.”

The Singapore government has incorporated tech in its programs in the past. By 2023, all government services in the country will go digital—from public housing to all sorts of payments. The country is even said to be launching smart street-lamps with integrated technology that can recognize faces. However, some of these high-tech updates have been criticised as well. Many fear increased surveillance and government tracking coming hand-in-hand with the use of technology. For example, all taxis and forms of public transport in Singapore will soon have audio recording devices.

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