OpenGov – NUS, NRF Singapore to Build National Quantum-Safe Network

Article from OpenGovAsia (February 18, 2022)


Singapore’s Quantum Engineering Programme (QEP) will start conducting nationwide trials of quantum-safe communication technologies that promise robust network security for critical infrastructure and companies handling sensitive data. Supported by the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF), the project kicks off with 15 private and government collaborators on board.

Network security is a cornerstone of today’s digital society. The public-key encryption that protects some of the billions of bits of data exchanged each day is known to be vulnerable to attacks by quantum computers, which have the potential to be millions of times more powerful than classical computers at some tasks. While today’s quantum computers are too small to break encryption, calls to address the cybersecurity threat become more urgent as technology advances.

Quantum-safe communication technologies are designed to counter the threat of quantum computing with specialised hardware and new cryptographic algorithms. They could secure communication systems for governments, critical infrastructure such as energy grids, and companies handling sensitive data in areas such as healthcare and finance. The new National Quantum-Safe Network (NQSN) will deploy commercial technologies for trials with government agencies and private companies, conduct an in-depth evaluation of security systems, and develop guidelines to support companies in adopting such technologies.

Singapore can build on its heritage in quantum science, optics and cybersecurity engineering to become a trusted global provider of quantum network technology and services. In NQSN, we will bring quantum innovation to deployed optical networks, where we can study operational issues such as a quantum network’s reliability and resilience together with our industry partners.

– Assistant Professor Charles Lim, Lead Principal Investigator, NQSN

Hosted by NUS, the initiative will receive S$8.5 million over three years. Collaborators will bring expertise, equipment and use-cases to the project. The new National Quantum-Safe Network aims to enhance network security for critical infrastructure with superior quantum technology and solutions, while also serving as a robust platform for public-private collaboration. This is a hallmark of translational research excellence and is also one of the key initiatives under the RIE2025 plan that bolsters Singapore’s ongoing transition into a trusted digital innovation hub.

The joint research team expects to have the first nodes up within a year. In parallel, they will establish a Quantum Security Lab to commence advanced quantum security vulnerability research and secure design. They will also organise workshops with potential end-users to better understand their needs and build awareness of the new technologies available.

Initial plans for the deployment are for 10 network nodes to be installed across Singapore connected to fibre, including two at NUS, two at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), and others at government and private company premises.

The nodes will be connected to provide a public network that can act as a living lab for organisations wanting to experience quantum-safe communication technologies, and separable government and private networks trialling dedicated users’ applications. A further experimental node at NUS will make a free-space connection to the public network, developing technologies that could extend secure links to locations that cannot be connected to fibre or may even be moving, such as boats.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, NUS has officially launched two new digital platforms, the Internship-As-A-Service (IAAS) and conNectUS, to prepare students for the working world. IAAS simultaneously meets the needs of industry partners for specialised talent and expands the scope of hands-on internship and gig opportunities for NUS students. conNectUS allows students to build greater connectivity with the University’s alumni and tap on their wealth of industry knowledge and experience as they chart their career journeys.

Against a backdrop of NUS’ strengthening commitment to preparing graduates for the workplace of the future, the platforms support the holistic development of graduates, particularly in the areas of interdisciplinary education, internship opportunities, intellectual flexibility, and diversity of skill sets, as well as instil the value of lifelong learning in graduates and alumni.