PUB to explore use of drones for surveillance, water management

Angela Lim Channel NewsAsia 30 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE: PUB is exploring the use of drones for surveillance and water management purposes, in addition to testing the use of robot swans to monitor water quality in reservoirs.

Since April this year, Singapore’s national water agency has been conducting trial flights of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – commonly known as drones – to look into the possibility of using them for general surveillance at Marina Reservoir.

The drones will help PUB obtain aerial footage for monitoring purposes and act as a deterrent for illegal activities, the agency said on Thursday (Jun 30).

PUB is also considering deploying the small, unmanned crafts – which would be fitted with multiple advanced sensors and cameras – at underground sewers. The drones would be able to navigate the tunnels without GPS and in complete darkness, while capturing 360-degree images in areas difficult for people to reach.


The PUB also announced earlier that it is testing the use of robot swans to monitor the water quality of reservoirs. Jointly developed by PUB, the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Environmental Research Institute and the Tropical Marine Science Institute, the New Smart Water Assessment Network (NUSwan) will be able to provide more accurate and timely monitoring of water quality in reservoirs.

The robot swans can also be deployed in flocks for more effective real-time monitoring, and can blend in well with its surroundings, while helping to lower the cost of water sampling, PUB said, adding that three swans have been successfully tested for use.


The drones and robot swans are some of the new water technologies showcased by PUB at this year's Singapore International Water Week.

Other technologies PUB will feature include the Smart Water Grid, an islandwide wireless sensor network that minimises water leaks, and a fully operational Silt Imagery Detection System to ensure the smooth running of Singapore’s waterways.

The event brings industry experts and delegates together in Singapore to pursue business opportunities, showcase the latest water technologies, as well as share industry best practices.

Now in its seventh run, the annual event will focus on present and emerging smart water technologies, including data-driven technologies that support various aspects of water management.

Singapore International Water Week will run from Jul 10 to 14.

- CNA/ww

Drones could be used to monitor reservoir pollution or detect illegal fishing
Carolyn Khew, The Straits Times AsiaOne 1 Jul 16;

A drone could, in the future, be used by national water agency PUB to monitor reservoirs.

A trial of the drone started in April this year at the Marina Reservoir and PUB is now exploring if it can be used to help monitor pollution or look out for cases of illegal fishing, for example.

Separately, discussions are ongoing with potential partners to develop a drone to be used in the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System - which can go to depths of 50m.

The system consists of a network of sewers which carry used water by gravity to centralised water reclamation plants.

The drone was among five technologies unveiled at the Marina Barrage yesterday ahead of the Singapore International Water Week taking place from July 10 to 14. The others are a robotic swan that "swims" in the water to monitor water quality, automated meter reading systems to track water consumption, sensors and image analytics.

The technologies are at different stages of implementation, and will help improve water surveillance and save manpower costs, among other benefits.

PUB is getting approvals to use the drone to monitor reservoirs, said Mr Tan Nguan Sen, PUB's chief sustainability officer. He added that the drone could help to quickly detect discharges into the water and trace the source of such discharges.

He said: "When someone discharges something into a canal or river, it will eventually find its way into the reservoir." It is hard to trace the discharge to its source from the ground.

To monitor water quality, PUB has developed a robotic swan together with the National University of Singapore Environmental Research Institute and the Tropical Marine Science Institute.

Designed to look like a life-sized swan, it can measure parameters such as chlorophyll and turbidity. The pilot to test out the swans in Marina and Pandan reservoirs ended last month, and PUB hopes to roll them out in the next few years.

One technology already in use is the silt imagery detection system. It monitors silty discharge such as clay and sand.

It sends out real-time alerts when it detects irregularities or when CCTV cameras are not working.

The system has been used to monitor 250 construction sites islandwide.

By next year, 800 sites are expected to adopt it, resulting in about 100,000 man-hour savings a year for contractors.

Since 2002, PUB has worked on 467 research and development projects worth $323 million.

The technologies will be showcased at the Smart Water Solutions Pavilion from July 11 to 13 during Singapore International Water Week.

Using smart technologies to improve planning and operations in water management will be a key focus at this year's event, said its managing director Bernard Tan.

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