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PUB Looking to Tech to Protect Singapore’s Coastline

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Grace Fu, Singapore’s Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, has recently announced that the PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, is seeking innovative proposals on the use of emerging technologies, such as machine learning, radar satellite and imagery, as well as crowdsourced data, for the collection and analysis of coastal and inland datasets to assist PUB in the formulation of coastal protection measures.

The SGD$ 51 million given to PUB by the National Research Foundation in September 2021 under the Competitive Funding for Water Research (CWR) programme will be used to fund the Request-for-Proposal (RFP). It is part of the RIE 2025 Plan for Research, Innovation, and Enterprise.

Coastal Protection planning is a long-term process, and our measures will need to be developed based on robust data and science-based research, taking into account considerations unique to Singapore.

– Hazel Khoo, Director of PUB’s Coastal Protection Department

Since taking over as the nation’s coastal protection agency in April 2020, PUB has made steady progress in developing plans to preserve our coastal areas from increasing sea levels and heavy rainfall caused by climate change.

Following the recent launch of site-specific studies for Singapore’s City-East Coast and a piece of the northwest coast, Jurong Island and the remaining stretch of the northwest coast will begin later this year. PUB is also working on the Coastal-Inland Flood Model, which is a sophisticated computational hydrodynamics model capable of assessing the combined effects of coastal and inland flood threats.

The RFP is part of PUB’s long-term research objectives to better understand the effects of waves, currents, and ship wakes to strengthen the development of coastal protection systems and ensure that they are effective, multi-functional, adaptive, and sustainable.

Coastal protection research is also expanding in Singapore, with several prospects for collaboration with local and international professionals from other areas. Furthermore, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment welcomes creative proposals from public and corporate businesses, research institutes, and institutions of higher learning to broaden and deepen their knowledge base for this essential endeavour. The proposal submission deadline is on 15 July 2022.

The proposal centres on the application of remote sensing, digital technology, and artificial intelligence in the construction of long-term flood datasets along the coast and inland. These types of data are essential for expanding the understanding of the local effects of flooding and providing support for the policy, planning, implementation, management, and operation.

It will seek out technology and solutions in the following three areas of concentration: The first step is to develop a proof-of-concept for the practicability of using real-time, remote, and low-maintenance sensors, such as radar and satellite-based sensors, for the PUB’s long-term monitoring of Singapore’s wave and current.

The second goal is to provide an automated framework with which to quantify the contribution of ship wakes to the wave field along Singapore’s shoreline; and third, to create a proof-of-concept for the viability of employing opportunistic Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) footages, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with remote sensors, and citizen-sourced smartphone photos to estimate the area and depth of inland and coastal floods.

PUB has ensured that Singapore has a diverse and sustainable water supply. It directs and organises whole-of-government efforts to protect Singapore from rising sea levels and to manage inland and coastal flood threats holistically. It encourages everyone to help save water, keep the waterways clean, and care for Singapore’s valuable water resources.

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