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Designing a liveable Singapore with GIS

Peter Quek, Group Director of the Information Systems & Geospatial Group, at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), shares how they are using GIS to plan for a sustainable future for Singapore. ...


Despite being a city state with limited resources, Singapore has impressively overcome various land challenges to achieve an enviable spot as one of Asia’s most liveable cities. This is the result of many factors such as good city governance, long term land policies, and strategic use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT).

“In the general use of ICT, Singapore has done well in areas such as national IT plans, e-government programme and ICT research and development,” says Quek.

Today, ICT has become a part of the government’s DNA for public administration and service delivery. As a result, the government’s efforts have been consistently recognised worldwide as an international benchmark in e-government services.

“In URA’s case, we have been using GIS as a strategic enabling platform to ensure that data are spatially captured, organised and linked into a single portal for complex visualisation and analysis required in land use planning."

“In this aspect, we have been sharing our best practices in areas such as GIS project implementation, integrating GIS into daily business systems and 3D GIS analytics with representatives and our counterparts from other countries.”

In fact, URA was recognised for its enterprise ePlanner platform during the recent Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Awards ceremony at the annual Esri International User Conference (Esri UC) in San Diego, California.

The enterprise ePlanner platform is a one-stop, multi-platform, geospatial urban planning portal. It integrates various 2D and 3D geospatial, development, planning and real-time data to enable advance spatial visualisation and analytics for business decisions, and knowledge sharing in a mobile workplace.

Quek shares that the ePlanner was conceived to enable planners to access information from a single portal on the go using their iPads via 3G and LTE, and also to perform advance spatial visualisation and analytics to make informed planning decisions.

“Planners need to retrieve information from various sources to make informed planning decisions. They also need to access information while they are on site visits or when engaging clients outside the office,” he says.

Before the implementation of the ePlanner system, planners had to go through different information systems to retrieve data required for land use planning. The process was time consuming because the information could reside in different departments, and planners had to prepare hardcopy printouts, which were cumbersome. Moreover, planners had to be trained in traditional GIS software.

With the implementation of the ePlanner, URA has managed to achieve faster and more efficient decision making and substantial productivity gains for the organisation.

In addition, since the ePlanner system is available on both desktop and iPad, planners can now access the rich datasets from their workstations and while on the move during study visits or site inspections, resulting in improved productivity.

“We are among the first planning organisation in the world to make use of, Esri’s ArcGIS 10.1, the latest geospatial analytics, and Internet/mobile (HTML5) technology to enable urban planning analysis in multiple desktop and mobile platforms.”

Quek adds that URA will continue to enhance the ePlanner system with more data and analytics. To cite an example, the future versions of the ePlanner will include real-time data such as traffic conditions to further help concerned stakeholders with their decision making processes.

Furthermore, he reveals that URA is also implementing a Digital 3D Urban Model System to create a high quality 3D model of Singapore to facilitate and streamline the agency’s planning and urban design work.

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