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Singapore Launches New Heat Resilience and Performance Centre

Image Credits: MINDEF, Press Release

Singapore’s Minister for Defence officiated the launch of the Heat Resilience and Performance Centre (HRPC) recently at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine). HRPC is a tripartite collaboration between the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), NUS, and DSO National Laboratories (DSO).

The partnership leverages the best of local and global expertise, including thermal physiologists and climate researchers, to address the long-term challenges of maintaining human performance amidst rising temperatures in the region and the world.

HRPC is exploring to bolster soldiers’ heat resilience and performance and observed a demonstration of data collection and analysis using wireless body sensor networks.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Minister noted that HRPC is part of the SAF’s effort to mitigate the impact of heat stress on soldiers and enable them to continue to train and operate effectively and safely amidst rising ambient heat.

MINDEF, SAF and DSO doctors, scientists and engineers have been working with other national experts to deal decisively with and prevent heat injuries. The tripartite partnership seeks to continue to enhance the relations between operations, technology and research institutions, tap into local and global expertise, and leverage key technology enablers like deep data science and artificial intelligence to develop innovative heat mitigation strategies.

While the pool of local experts in the field of heat injury prevention is limited, the HRPC will tap into the best-in-class researchers from both local and overseas. HRPC will, thus, be increasingly important for the health of not only our soldiers but the public as ambient temperature rises.

HRPC is a dedicated, one-stop research entity that brings together subject matter experts from the local defence ecosystem and NUS, to drive and conduct heat resilience and performance research to mitigate the challenges posed to training and operations due to global warming.

The Centre will contribute to and leverage national efforts in relevant areas of research, and provide dedicated expertise support for MINDEF/SAF’s long-term heat resilience strategies. The Director of HRPC also said that in addition to heat injuries and performance degradation, excessive heat stress can also compromise decision-making, leading to accidents.

Heat can be an enabler for physiological adaptations if harnessed correctly. HRPC seeks to add value to the expanding narrative of heat health and performance research to provide forward-looking solutions that proactively augments heat resilience in our people amidst rising global temperatures.

The Minister for Defence was accompanied by the Chief of Army, Dean NUS Medicine, CEO DSO and other senior members from the SAF, NUS and DSO.

Some of the cutting-edge solutions and strategies that the Centre is looking at to build heat resilience and optimise performance in individuals amidst rising ambient temperatures include a network of wireless sensors that can capture and assess an individual’s heat status before the point of overexertion is reached as well as an intelligent fabric which collects and stores data patterns happening in the human body.

The HRPC will focus on three key research thrusts:

  • Discover – Build a robust database through the aggregation and analysis of existing and emerging data which allow the development and continuous refinement of physiological research models. These data-driven capabilities will sharpen the centre’s research focus, drive the testing of new research hypotheses, and uncover new mechanisms and predictive factors. This will enable HRPC to be at the forefront of discovering, developing and refining solutions for heat resilience.
  • Detect – Visualising and making sense of an individual’s heat-health and readiness status. This thrust focuses on developing the capability to visualise and interpret the heat-health status of individuals in real-time, allowing for the development of personalised training programmes for heat management, active risk management and training optimisation. These algorithms can not only predict the risk of heat injury, but also personalise training to be more time efficient, improve performance and yield greater results from heat resilience training.
  • Strengthen – Developing state-of-the-art tools and technology-enabled approaches to boost heat resilience. This thrust explores different advanced technologies and approaches, to develop more efficient strategies for heat resilience in humans. Investigations into these technologies will be guided by in-depth understanding of physiology, biology, psychology, as well as the social and behavioural responses to rising heat.
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