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Singapore refreshes geospatial masterplan

Masterplan aimed at driving mainstream adoption of geospatial applications and grooming geospatial talent, among other goals, will help to position Singapore as a global geospatial hub

At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) put up a map showing areas that were most frequented by infected patients to guide people on their movements.

More recently, MOH’s office for healthcare transformation started the Digital Local Connect map service that general practitioners and health partners can use to guide residents to locations of care providers, community programmes and other resources.

Underpinning such map services is spatial data that references a geographical area or location to represent an object, building or facility, paving the way for geospatial applications not only in healthcare, but also in logistics use cases such as routing and asset tracking.

At the Geo Connect Asia 2024 conference today, Singapore unveiled a refreshed geospatial masterplan that will guide the development of the country’s geospatial capabilities over the next decade.

The plan, developed by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Maritime Port Authority of Singapore, is focused on driving mainstream adoption of geospatial applications, deepening capabilities in new domains, building a pipeline of geospatial specialists and contributing to global geospatial developments.

Edwin Tong, Singapore’s minister for culture, community and youth, and second minister for law, noted that the masterplan will help to position Singapore as a geospatial hub, and among other things, recognise the interconnectedness of marine and terrestrial data to address unique challenges that Singapore faces as an island-nation.

To drive mainstream adoption of geospatial applications, SLA will work with SingHealth Community Hospitals to codevelop a web map tailored for “social prescribing”, where care professionals can point individuals to non-medical services and community activities such as Zumba and Tai Chi to improve their health and well-being.

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Tong said: “We know that sustaining good health is about a lot more than what happens in the hospitals or clinics. It is about our everyday choices and habits. I hope that leveraging geospatial capabilities to support social prescribing will enable more Singaporeans to lead healthier and more active lives.”

Beyond extending the benefits of geospatial to the wider community, SLA also looking to deepen Singapore’s geospatial capabilities to keep pace with technological advancements and support the demand for high-quality geospatial data.

In October 2023, it launched the OneMap GPT Challenge to explore ways to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into applications for OneMap, SLA’s authoritative map service for Singapore that includes useful day-to-day information and services contributed by government agencies.

One of the winning projects was a prototype from Chinese technology giant Huawei. Dubbed Inter-generational Itinerary Planner/Property Finder, it integrates generative AI capabilities with OneMap and private sector data to help people plan their daily activities and search for properties using natural language.

To meet the growing demand for geospatial expertise, SLA initiated the inaugural Map Our World programme in November 2023 to spark students’ interest in map-making, and organised four editions of the ASEAN geospatial challenge that saw tertiary students build geospatial applications to address the United Nations’ sustainability development goals.

Tong noted that in a growing area like geospatial, there is also a need to meet the demand for geospatial knowledge and skillsets by developing industry-relevant course offerings to cater to adult learners.

To that end, SLA teamed up with the National University of Singapore (NUS) last year to develop geospatial certifications and courses for working adults. NUS is also working on a geospatial professional certificate programme that will provide introductory training in geospatial applications, data management and analytics later this year.

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