By Tan Boon Khai, Chief Executive, Singapore Land Authority

At a recent webinar, I shared the premise of Singapore’s Geospatial Masterplan, which we launched in 2018. As a land scarce country of about 720 square kilometres, geospatial is increasingly playing a crucial role in Singapore’s urban development, and redevelopment.  Through the use of geospatial, both in data and platforms, Singapore is better able to analyse its land use more productively, allowing for better optimisation of land. We do this not only for above ground, but also underground space. Beyond this, the recent Covid-19 pandemic has also shown the importance of geospatial, allowing Singapore to analyse data and put in necessary measures to minimise and contain the spread of infections within the country.

Ultimately, through greater digitalisation and effective use of data, Singapore’s key goal as a smart nation is to allow its people to enjoy better and meaningful lives. In more ways than one, geospatial, being the foundation of many smart technologies today, allows us to understand the surroundings which we live in holistically, provide us with up to date location-based data, and help us make decisions more efficiently and analytically.  

The three pillars

Fundamentally, Singapore’s Geospatial Masterplan is built upon three pillars, being:

  1. A Geosmart Government – where Singapore’s public sector plays a key role in enabling and fostering geospatial use, and building geospatial capabilities;
  2. A Thriving GeoIndustry – where the Singapore government and the geospatial industry, comprising mature and start-up companies, come together to promote and enhance the use of geospatial, and to collaborate; and,
  3. A Nation of GeoEmpowered People – where the development of geospatial manpower is key.

Only when the three pillars come together can we truly unlock the value of the geospatial ecosystem, not only for Singapore, but beyond.

Putting the Pieces Together
The key starting point to harnessing the value of geospatial rests upon geospatial data.  In this regard, Singapore recently established a Geospatial Trusted Centre, under the purview of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).  This latest initiative has created a trusted single source of truth destination which public agencies can turn to for updated and accurate geospatial data. And through Singapore’s OneMap, and OneMap3D (currently in development), SLA proliferates sharing of such geospatial data through open-source platforms which businesses, and the public, can access and use.

But data alone is only one piece of the puzzle. SLA’s Geospatial Capability Centre will, going forward, endeavour to build capabilities of geospatial, both within government, and outside (through GeoWorks). This includes a deliberate attempt to build longer term geospatial pipelines of talent for Singapore. In more ways than one, we see the government’s role in the development of Singapore’ geospatial ecosystem as integral, and in three prongs: – 

  1. as a participant (joining hands and working with the industry), 
  2. as a facilitator (bringing geospatial to a higher plane by bringing different industries together, and data sharing and supporting regulations); and, 
  3. as an enabler (promoting and encouraging growth of geospatial within the industry, and the region).  

And we will support the development of geospatial the best we can. Over the past few years, through various interactions with many geospatial government agencies, and geospatial leaders in the private sector, I am heartened that there is a consolidated push toward enhancing the use of geospatial in the multitude of fields today. The future of geospatial is bright, and the future of geospatial is right at our doorsteps. Let us work towards a geo-empowered future, and use geospatial to make the world a better place.