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Digital Earth Partnership Technology Challenge for Urban Heat in Singapore

Singapore Space & Technology Limited (SSTL) announces the second year of its partnership with the World Bank Group, to organise a Digital Earth Partnership Technology Challenge focused on the measurement and analysis of extreme urban heat. The challenge aims to improve our understanding of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect and its impact on East Asian communities.

Like the rest of the world, Asia is getting warmer due to climate change. The UHI effect, which is caused mainly by the modification of land surfaces due to urbanisation, is exacerbating this trend. The removal of trees and other green spaces to make way for buildings and roads, the addition of heat-absorbing materials, and waste heat from energy use in buildings and transportation are adding to the already rising ambient temperature.

This is a growing problem in the region as it results in reduced productivity, worse education and health outcomes, and greater energy requirements for cooling, leading to more carbon emissions. Heatwaves in cities also correlate with increased crime, conflict, domestic violence, and poorer mental health. Extreme heat disproportionately impacts poor or otherwise marginalised communities and is a particular problem for the region’s developing countries.

To address these challenges, the World Bank has embarked on the EAP Regional Extreme Urban Heat Study to better assess the impacts of extreme heat exposure in the region and to inform city-level strategies to mitigate and adapt to such negative impacts. To support this study, Singapore Space & Technology and the World Bank are launching an Innovation Challenge to source satellite and other technologies to better measure temperatures in cities and analyse the strength of the UHI effect in the region.

At Singapore Space & Technology, our mission, as an NGO, is to harness and advance space technologies to benefit communities and humanity. Global climate change in cities is worsened by the urban heat island effect and in particular, our communities are being disproportionately impacted, leading to even higher rates of air pollution, poorer water quality and associated risks to human health. I’m grateful to the participation of organisations joining hands with us in this meaningful work that can benefit generations to come.

– Lynette Tan, Chief Executive of SSTL

Participating teams will get access to technical experts from the World Bank who specialises in studying the impact of climate change on communities through workshops and clinic sessions and will have the opportunity to explore new use cases of their technology and data processing capabilities.

Participating teams should submit a full technical proposal of their proposed technical solution, methodology and sources of data to tackle the challenge statement. The deadline for the proposals is 25 February 2022. The World Bank and Singapore Space & Technology will jointly evaluate the proposals and select the winning proposal to be implemented in collaboration with the World Bank.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, Solar farms, also known as solar parks, are large solar installations. They are typically used as power plants, much like natural gas power plants. Solar farms, as opposed to residential solar panels, instal their solar panels into the ground over large areas of land. The panels absorb sunlight all day and direct it to a receiver filled with molten salt. When the salt reaches 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, it stores the energy as heat so it will be ready when needed. The heat will turn water into steam when a grid needs power.

Solar energy is Singapore’s most promising renewable energy source for electricity generation. Solar energy is environmentally friendly, produces no emissions, and contributes to Singapore’s energy security. However, there are some obstacles to large-scale solar deployment in Singapore, such as land constraints and local weather conditions. Shell and government agency JTC Corporation have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding for an offshore solar farm, both parties announced in a press release last June 2021, to prepare for a future in which solar energy could form a larger portion of Singapore’s energy mix.

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