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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Singapore: Becoming a Geo-enabled Smart Nation

October 11th, 2017 by Susan Smith

Getting to stay at a hotel that was crafted using the software of the host company is a really exciting experience. The Bentley 2017 Year in Infrastructure thought leadership event is held at the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel, in Singapore, a marvel of architecture made possible in large part by Bentley software.

Whenever a host city is chosen for a Bentley event, it is chosen based upon that region’s commitment to infrastructure. For many years I’ve attended the Year in Infrastructure events and this one is no different in honoring the geographic region that presents a great deal of industry and innovation in infrastructure. The event showcases finalists and winners in the annual Bentley Be Inspired Awards, that demonstrate excellence in all aspects of infrastructure and land planning – from roads and bridges, utilities, rail, reality modeling and much more.

There are other Be Inspired Award finalist buildings dotted around the bay that also reflect the creative use of Bentley software, and help define the Singapore skyline.

Why are so many of these ambitious projects clustered in one city/state/country? In opening comments yesterday, Chris Barron of Bentley remarked, “The center of gravity for infrastructure is in Asia. One-half of our finalists this year are from Asia.”

While Singapore is a thriving city metropolis, it is also a small nation. It may be one of the first countries to take a leap into being a “smart nation,” far beyond the ambitions of the “smart city.”

There is a stark difference between the Singapore we see today and eight years ago when the Marina Bay Sands Hotel was built. The center of the 720-square-meter island was essentially seawater, and needed to be built up with many tons of soil shipped in to support the ambitious structures that would eventually make up the profile and economy of this city/state/country.

This is where geospatial comes in, and it is indelibly woven into the fabric of how the island came to support such structures and new economic growth. In Bentley’s world view, geospatial is a part of the whole, and it is a part of all the utilities, road, rail and construction offerings as it must be part of the projects themselves.

“Going Digital” is the theme of the conference and is really the way that these advancements have been achieved and will continue to be achieved going forward. The 2010 Winner in Innovation in Structural was the Marina Bay Sands Hotel project, working with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), the foremost authority on all the building and infrastructure on the island.

Singapore Changi Airport will open Terminal 4 the end of this month. ProjectWise construction management is already in use for Terminal 5. The new terminal will be one of the largest deep water ports in the world. With this growth, one can see how we can advance our economy at the same time as the environment.

Singapore has a mobile penetration rate of 150% and is planning next year to have seamless connectivity.

SLA embraces the whole process of project delivery in construction and has a 3D National Mapping initiative.

A 3D cadastre is coming live this year, as they want and need a continuous digital context. SLA are using aerial photography and reality modeling to process surveying immediately and that is where Bentley’s reality modeling product ContextCapture makes a welcome appearance. ContextCapture is a technology that makes reality capture and processing available to small and large companies alike and can be used in a broad range of disciplines.

Over 75% of the sales and use of ContextCapture comes from Asia. ContextCapture processing from aerial and other photography can take place on apps on the computer but as a cloud service.

ContextCapture on all sorts of devices such as laser scanners, photogrammetry, even iPhones allows all reality modeling processes to come together to produce the best scan.

Deep learning starts with ContextCapture software and learns to apply classification to rest of the reality mesh.

Towards a Geo-Enabled Smart Nation

Speaker chief executive of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Tan Boon Kai, gave a keynote entitled “Towards a Geo-Enabled Smart Nation.” He spoke about Singapore’s push towards being the “world’s first smart nation.” This involves improving the lives of citizens, creating more opportunities and building stronger communities.

Using good data, the government can carry out better measurements and improve the nation’s performance holistically. They have limited land and unlimited space, and it takes just an hour to get from the airport to the furthest point on the island. Their goal is to optimize land resources for the economic and social development of Singapore.


  • optimization of state land and properties
  • gatekeeper for land use in Singapore


  • registration of land and property transactions
  • management of national land survey system
  • Administration of Residential Property Act

Mapping and Geospatial:

  • Development of geospatial technologies in support of Smart Nation
  • Operation of geospatial platforms within government
  • Building up geospatial capabilities within the public service

The mapping and geospatial workflow includes capture, model, share and manage data.

In supporting Smart Nation, Kai said they need digital transformation, to ensure interoperability, evolving from 2D to 3D and beyond.

“Having geospatial as a key component reinforces that data is fundamental as a push for developing as a small nation,” said Kai.

SLA are constantly exploring new ways of capturing and sharing data efficiently.

What do we have to do to support digital transformation? Digital transformation enables us to deliver on service making and processes, said Kai.

“Ensure interoperability, adopt open standard formats, believe in open format and smart data so data can support a wide variety of smart apps,” said Kai. “It can be stored in our database, developed once and used by many.”

2D is inadequate to represent high density development, so they must capture and create 3D datasets with a high level of detail. This is very important to allow environmental studies.

Smart Cadastre development is also a key data set of the country and processes. “All agencies use this data set,” said Kai. “Our cadastre system will in future be called Smart Cadastre, and hope it’s extended in 3D format. We hope it will improve productivity, decision making as well as do analytics.”

SIReNT GNSS Reference Stations are developed to ensure the country continually gets the best position from the system. It supports up to centimeter level positioning, navigation, and monitoring, and is an open system supporting both public and private users. “We need to constantly consider improving the integrity of this system,” said Kai.

OneMap 2.0 allows public users to download and obtain map data of Singapore, today it was upgraded from version 1. Developed inhouse, this solution is a complete open source environment, providing high quality geospatial information for all kinds of apps.

3D National Mapping is done in partnership with the water agency, public utilities, and aviation of Singapore, and for planning risk management and policy development. It involves capturing data at street level and phase 1 airborne laser scanning and imaging and phase 2, mobile laser scanning and imaging.

Terrain models and 3D mapping shown in the 3D City model for Virtual Singapore is in a virtual environment.

Massive amounts of data are collected for over 6,000 roads in Singapore. 3D models collect roads and street furniture, and support driverless vehicles of the future. Laser scanning for heritage documentation allows the country to protect their national monuments.

“We are looking at methodologies to allow us to capture models and manage underground networks to integrate above and underground 3D Map,” said Kai.

Once details get into 3D data set, it will be great, he said. Both softwares have to be compatible and share interoperability.

SLA is trying to create efficiency without manpower, as it is one of the ways to gather efficient data.

“SiRenT is our positioning system that allows us to gather data in real time,” said Kai. “How can we gather accurate real time data? We want to consolidate all the sensor data we have.”

The role of the electric utility allows SLA to monitor energy efficiency. The problem for telcos and energy companies is the need for consolidated ways to capture. Telcos in Singapore are privatized so there is an effort to get them to share their data. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to monitor consumption levels of energy and are  looking at ways to harness natural forms of energy,” Kai said.

“We need better insight into indoor infrastructure and how buildings are created as indoor data is critical for us,” said Kai. “You’ll soon be able to input BIM data, to increase the level of data you have.”

“Our challenges in Singapore in many government agencies, is how do you accurately capture the next generation of utility data underground, while ensuring today’s underground data is accurate?” Kai asked. “There’s no way of verifying underground drawings are accurate unless you dig.”

They will need to do more underground modeling, said Kai. Many countries share these challenges and if we can all find a solution in common, then technologies will be created to address the issue.

If these weren’t large enough challenges, Kai said they are working on driverless vehicle development, with SiReNT precise navigation capability for driverless cars.

Airfare, lodging and some meals were provided for courtesy of Bentley Systems.

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Categories: 3D Cities, 3D designs, airports, analytics, asset management, Bentley, Bentley Systems, Big Data, Building Information Modeling, cloud, cloud network analytics, data, field GIS, geospatial, GIS, government, image-delivery software, indoor location technology, indoor mapping, integrated GIS solutions, lidar, location based services, reality modeling, resilient cities, satellite imagery, sensors, subsurface utilities, survey, transportation, UAVs, utilities

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