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Singapore’s Digital Approach to Coastal Protection

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The launch of the Coastal Protection and Flood Resilience Institute (CFI) in Singapore is a significant milestone in the nation’s ongoing efforts to address the challenges posed by climate change and the growing threat of sea-level rise.

This collaborative initiative between the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) demonstrates Singapore’s commitment to enhancing its capabilities in coastal protection and flood management through cutting-edge research, digitalisation, and innovation.

The coastal environment has become increasingly vulnerable because of climate change, which includes more frequent and intense rainfall events and rising sea levels. In response to these challenges, PUB was appointed as Singapore’s national coastal protection agency in 2020. Since then, PUB has taken proactive steps to develop strategies and solutions to bolster the country’s resilience against climate change impacts.

The establishment of CFI Singapore as part of PUB’s S$125 million Coastal Protection and Flood Management Research Programme (CFRP) underscores the importance of research and technology development in addressing these challenges. The institute’s role in generating core knowledge in coastal science and developing tailored solutions for Singapore’s urban and land-constrained coastlines is pivotal.

One of CFI Singapore’s key focus areas is the digitalisation of the coastal environment. This involves leveraging advanced technologies to monitor and predict changes in coastal conditions, allowing for more effective and responsive flood management strategies. Digitalisation also opens opportunities for innovative engineering solutions and integrated nature-based approaches to coastal protection.

Digitalisation efforts encompass the use of advanced sensors, data analytics, and modelling techniques to monitor and predict coastal changes. Real-time data from these sensors can inform decision-makers about changing conditions, enabling them to take timely actions to protect vulnerable coastal areas. Besides, predictive modelling can help anticipate future scenarios, allowing for proactive planning and adaptation measures.

CFI Singapore’s research projects in this area are set to revolutionise how Singapore manages its coastlines. Collaborations with local and international universities, researchers, and industry partners ensure a wealth of expertise is brought to bear on these challenges. For example, projects focused on enhancing existing coastal protection infrastructure and testing hybrid nature-based solutions demonstrate the breadth of innovation being explored.

Hazel Khoo, Director of PUB’s Coastal Protection Department, rightly highlights the importance of Singapore’s coastal areas in her statement. Given the limited land available in the city-state, the protection and multifunctional use of coastal regions are of paramount importance. The initiatives undertaken by CFI Singapore are not only about protection but also about maximising the potential of these precious coastal areas for the benefit of Singaporeans.

Equally important is the focus on talent development. CFI Singapore and its partner institutes are working to attract and nurture research and development talent. The introduction of educational pathways, workforce training, and seminar series will help cultivate a new generation of professionals with expertise in coastal protection and flood management. This investment in human capital is essential for ensuring that Singapore has the necessary skills and knowledge to address long-term coastal challenges effectively.

The graduate certificate in coastal protection and flood management offered by NUS and the undergraduate specialisation in coastal protection at NTU is indicative of the commitment to developing a skilled workforce. These programmes will provide individuals with the expertise needed to contribute to the ongoing efforts to protect Singapore’s coastlines and manage the increasing risks posed by climate change.


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