Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Interactive 3-D map of Singapore to be ready by 2017

Singapore to map out its Smart Nation dream in 3D
Digital model of country to help planners, businesses and citizens
By Aw Cheng Wei, The Straits Times, 2 Dec 2014

IT LOOKS like a city-planning simulator game but Virtual Singapore - a three-dimensional digital model of the entire country - sets the stage for the Republic to become a Smart Nation with cutting-edge urban living solutions.

To be completed by 2017 at a cost of $73 million, the detailed map of Singapore will show virtual 3D replicas of buildings, roads, carpark spaces and other aboveground structures. One can even click on individual sections of buildings to find out, for instance, about the material used on the windows as well as the number of hours a structure faces direct sunlight every day.

With the model in place, it will be possible to run simulations on the map to address issues such as crowd control, flooding and noise levels.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first announced Virtual Singapore last week as part of his 10-year goal of making Singapore a Smart Nation. Yesterday, the National Research Foundation (NRF) unveiled more details.

Businesses such as telcos can benefit by visualising more efficient mobile network coverage. Shoppers can use the virtual model to navigate their way in malls.

The platform can translate information from tracking devices or wearables, which should make it possible to keep tabs on elderly family members with dementia or to locate missing pets.

Professor Low Teck Seng, chief executive of the NRF, said: "Its potential uses are limitless."

Included in the budget is the building of a technology platform for private companies and government agencies to upload, store and share data sets to carry out virtual tests.

To protect the privacy of individuals, security and data protection safeguards will be in place.

But the most challenging part will be getting the buy-in from all agencies and integrating the disparate information, Prof Low noted.

Work on the new 3D map started last year, with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) scanning the city with lasers from low-flying planes to collect landscape information.

Once Virtual Singapore is ready, the SLA will own and operate it while the Infocomm Development Authority will offer technical expertise.

Mr Tan Kok Yam, head of the new Smart Nation Programme Office, said: "Even for people who may not know anything about Virtual Singapore, we hope that this will be of great benefit to them - be it in mobility, noise control or city liveability."

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