More construction firms to adopt new technology to curb pollution

By end-2017, 800 construction sites are expected to use a system to check for silt discharged into public drains.
Alice Chia Channel NewsAsia 31 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: More construction companies are set to adopt a new technology to curb pollution and cut down on manpower costs.

By end-2017, 800 construction sites are expected to use a system to check for silt discharged into public drains. This is estimated to bring about 100,000 man-hour savings per year for the companies.

Silt is sediments consisting of very fine particles which, if washed into drains, can lead to pollution. Silty discharge is caused by the lack of proper earth control measures at construction sites.

To prevent this, as of February 2016, PUB enhanced its requirement for new construction sites, with site areas of 0.2 hectares and above, to use the Silt Imagery Detection System. The system analyses images from closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras contractors have installed at public drains.

If it detects silt discharge or image problems, which could be due to CCTV downtime, it sends out alerts.

Currently, 265 CCTV cameras at 178 construction sites are connected to the system.

Previously, contractors had to continuously monitor their CCTV cameras, which is time-consuming and manpower-intensive. Since 2013, contractors of sites of 0.5 hectares and above have been required to implement CCTV cameras at public drains to monitor treated rainwater discharge to ensure that it is not silty.

Through a Government scheme called the Technology Adoption Programme, PUB worked with A*STAR's Institute for Infocomm Research to develop the Silt Imagery Detection System. To date, more than 1,000 companies have benefited from 1,800 technology adoptions under the scheme.

The system will also be shared with Government agencies involved in development projects, as well as other major private developers to raise awareness and promote self-regulation among industry players. This will take place within the next 12 months in phases.

Said Dr Koh Poh Koon, Minister of State for Trade and Industry: "The detection by a camera device is remotely done without definite human interface. The image can be captured and transmitted through a central server so it allows actually one person to monitor sites across the entire island through the use of a smart technology that leverages internet connectivity.

"In terms of scaling up this project, if the algorithm can be tweaked to detect other things, for example, debris, rather than just silt, maybe solid debris accumulating in drains, we could potentially widen it to monitoring drainage systems across the town, where we can look for rubbish accumulation, dead leaf accumulation within our drainage system, and therefore detect areas that could be a dengue breeding site, for example.

"So I think it's a matter of just applying the technology creatively to solve current existing problems."

- CNA/ek