Opening Address by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Singapore Geospatial Festival 2022, on 4 October 2022
Dr Nadine Alameh, Chief Executive Officer, Open Geospatial Consortium
Mr Lam Yi Young, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Business Federation
Mr Colin Low, Chief Executive, Singapore Land Authority
Captain Muhammad Segar, Assistant Chief Executive, Maritime and Port Authority
Ladies and Gentlemen
1 Good morning. I am delighted to join you this morning at the opening of the Singapore Geospatial Festival 2022 (or GeoFest in short) and the annual Members Meeting of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).
2 It is heartening that geospatial experts and enthusiasts from the international and local community are here to exchange and advance geospatial knowledge. I would like to thank the OGC for their confidence in choosing Singapore as the venue for their 124th Members Meeting in conjunction with GeoFest this year. To our international friends from the OGC, welcome to Singapore!
3 The theme for GeoFest this year is “A Sustainable Future with Geospatial”. Indeed, geospatial technology is a critical enabler for national and global efforts to address climate change and to help us devise solutions to achieve our sustainability goals.
Geospatial Technology: An Imperative Tool for a more Sustainable and Climate-resilient Future
4 Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation. It is an existential threat for all of us, but especially for a low-lying island-state like Singapore. With limited land, manpower, and alternative energy options, Singapore is especially vulnerable to the impact of climate change. We need to find ways to minimise the irreversible damage and adapt effectively to its impact. And we need to do this urgently and collectively.
5 The environmental problems that we face are largely spatial in nature. One example is the risk of coastal flooding due to low-lying areas. It is thus important for us to utilise spatial analysis and data, and tools such as geospatial technologies in developing our understanding of the impact of climate change as well as mitigation and adaptation strategies.
6 Spatial analysis allows researchers to identify impacted areas and biodiversity loss, monitor sea-level rise, and study the impacts of climate change. It also enables policymakers to determine the “how”, “when”, and “where” to implement or make changes to our policies.
7 Thankfully, in today’s landscape, technology is easily accessible for us to tap into to advance our work in this area. Geospatial technology, in particular, is a key catalyst in helping us capture real-time geological information. The information should prove invaluable for us in developing solutions to address some of the climate and environmental issues.
Applying Geospatial Technology for Sustainable Living in Singapore
8 In addition to addressing climate change challenges, geospatial technology plays an important role in improving our daily lives in Singapore. Singapore is a strong advocate of the use of geospatial applications. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a “MaskGoWhere” website was set up to show the nearest mask vending machines.
9 Geospatial applications also help businesses to optimise their operations and reduce costs. SLA had inked MOUs with last-mile delivery companies to collaborate in experimenting the collection of “hyperlocal data” to help their dispatch staff pinpoint the exact lift lobby for each block to deliver their packages, thus saving travel time and cost.
10 Another area where geospatial technology can make a significant impact is transportation. Geospatial data helps us make the transition to greener modes of transport, whether we are using Electric Vehicles (EVs), walking, cycling or commuting. One example is SLA’s collaboration with Technical University of Munich (TUM) at the Singapore Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) to identify suitable locations for BlueSG’s EV charging stations for EV car sharing.
11 Helping companies to optimise their processes and improve efficiencies through the use of geospatial data and technology would also contribute to Singapore’s efforts in reducing our carbon footprint.
MOU between Singapore Business Federation and Singapore Land Authority
12 To extend the benefits of geospatial data to more businesses, SLA will sign a MOU with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) today. The aim of the MOU is to raise awareness of how geospatial technologies can help transform businesses and related industries to enable better productivity and efficiency through knowledge sharing, capacity building, and skills and capability development programs. This opens doors to identifying potential geospatial co-innovation opportunities relevant to businesses.
Innovating in the Use of Geospatial Technologies
13 Geospatial technologies are constantly evolving, and we have been continuously looking out for innovative ways to harness the potential of such technologies. One such initiative is SLA’s National 3D Mapping programme. Through high-precision 3D mapping using both airborne and ground-based survey technologies, we have constructed derivative maps and replicas of our world – Singapore’s digital twin.
14 SLA’s digital twin of Singapore enables us to conduct in-depth analyses and simulations to gain early insights on how climate risks are unfolding to prepare ahead and respond accordingly. Some vulnerabilities that geospatial data addresses include extreme urban heat, in-land flooding, and landslides from soil erosion.
15 I am delighted to learn that SLA will be signing a MOU with the National University Singapore (NUS) later this week to research and develop a cost-effective methodology for ascertaining the amount of carbon stored in our swamps and forests, and their corresponding capacities to absorb carbon dioxide. SLA’s laser scanning expertise will facilitate and enable us to take stock of our carbon sinks, which helps to lower carbon dioxide levels and temperature.
16 This latest MOU with NUS is one of many collaborations that SLA has with academia on sustainability research. In another earlier collaboration with the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) of NUS, a country-wide solar potential map that identifies optimal locations to place solar panels was produced. This has helped us be more targeted in solar panel deployment as part of Singapore’s transition to green energy.
17 I would like to encourage everyone here to explore collaborations that will leverage geospatial technologies to push the boundaries of climate change research and solutions.
Fostering International Collaboration to Address Climate Change
18 Just last week, it was announced that Dr Victor Khoo, Director of Survey and Geomatics at the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), has become the first Singaporean to be appointed as co-chair of the United Nations Expert Group on Land Administration and Management. Congratulations to Dr Victor Khoo.
19 I am glad to see how Singapore’s achievements and efforts in this area have been recognised internationally. I strongly believe that international cooperation remains paramount, especially when it comes to climate change and sustainability.
20 As an example of the benefits such collaborations can bring, I am pleased to share that the Singapore Land Authority and the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) Singapore are collaborating with the OGC on a pilot project that will develop application prototypes and enhance open standards for integrating various types of land and marine data.
21 As a low-lying island state, 30 per cent of Singapore’s land lies less than 5 metres above current mean sea level. Any further increase in sea levels caused by climate change is an immediate threat and will put Singapore in a vulnerable position.
22 Hence, such integration of land and marine data is important for the planning of coastal protection. The learning points from this pilot project will serve as a useful reference for other countries which are also looking into coastal protection planning with land and marine data.
23 To conclude, I would like to extend my congratulations to SLA for reaching another milestone with the signing of the MOU with SBF today.
24 Managing the impact of climate change requires partnership and collaboration with all stakeholders from different sectors. It is our privilege to have partners from the international community, the private sector, and academia here today. With your diverse expertise and experience in the geospatial tech space, we can, together, drive geospatial innovations to help us realise the bold vision we have, to create a sustainable future for everyone.
25 Thank you and I wish all of you a fruitful event ahead.