Singapore launches S$150m research initiative to improve living environment

Rachel Phua Channel NewsAsia 29 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of National Development (MND) launched a S$150 million initiative on Thursday (Jun 29) aimed at developing Singapore’s urban planning research capabilities.

The initiative, called the Cities of Tomorrow R&D Programme (CoT), aims to address key challenges facing Singapore such as climate change, ageing infrastructure, resource constraints and demand for space. CoT will support basic research, applied research, and small-scale demonstration projects, the ministry added.

Speaking at the opening of the fourth Urban Sustainability R&D Congress on Thursday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said the research under CoT will help Singapore deal with the "increasing complexities" of running a city-state, which require greater coordination and better integration of research efforts.

“We’re also looking for research that can be translated from the lab to real-world deployment … so as to reap tangible social and economic benefits,” he added.

Funding for the project will come from the S$900 million allocated to the Urban Solutions and Sustainability sector under the S$19 billion Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan announced last year.

The programme will be a multi-agency effort led by MND, and focus on six research areas: Advanced construction, resilient infrastructure, new spaces, greater sustainability, urban environment analytics and complexity science for urban solutions.

For example, under the "new spaces" theme, researchers can look at how to develop tools to improve underground mapping accuracy or reduce the cost of developing underground. They can also look at how to move functions such as utilities, warehousing and storage facilities underground in order to free up surface land for other activities.

At the congress, the Housing and Development Board will also sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Imperial College London and A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research.

They will collaborate on a research project to expand the capabilities of sensor networks, strengthen the use of analytics and predictive modelling for better planning and resource optimisation in an urban environment, optimise estate maintenance and enhance the quality of the living environment, MND said.

S$150m set aside to create ‘Cities of Tomorrow’: Lawrence Wong
NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 29 Jun 17;

Singapore – The Government will set aside S$150 million to conduct research and development on construction and infrastructure, and create new spaces and a more resource-efficient living environment integrated with nature.

Announcing the new initiative called the Cities of Tomorrow on Thursday (June 29), Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said the S$150 million kitty will come from the S$900 million set aside for Urban Solutions and Sustainability under Singapore's Research Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan. Announced last year, the plan sets aside S$19 billion to drive innovation in Singapore's economy and society.

Firstly, research and development (R&D) on advanced construction and resilient infrastructure will boost construction productivity and use smart technologies to maintain buildings well, said Mr Wong, who was speaking at the Urban Sustainability R&D Congress organised by his ministry with 16 government agencies, involving more than 1,000 participants from government, research institutes and the private sector.

For example, the Housing and Development Board is looking at ways to move towards a more predictive and proactive approach to maintain towns and estates, using sensors, the Internet of Things and big data. It will sign a memorandum of understanding with Imperial College London and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research for its project.

Secondly, research into new spaces aims to create more usable underground and sea space in a cost-effective and environmentally sensitive way.

Singapore's priority is to move functions like utilities, warehousing and storage facilities underground to free up more land on the surface. Safety is a key aspect, and research is being done by JTC and Nanyang Technological University on life and structural fire safety of underground caverns.

The third key R&D area of the Cities of Tomorrow programme will be on building a more sustainable city. Research will delve into ways to enable residents to interact closely with greenery, and live in a cooler and quieter environment.

For example, the Building and Construction Authority and National University of Singapore are working on nanocomposite films that can convert heat to energy for more effective indoor cooling in the tropics while improving air quality.

Cities of Tomorrow will enable Singapore to deal with the increasing complexities of running a city state, said Mr Wong. This requires greater coordination and better integration of research efforts to reap synergies, he said.

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