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3D Digital Model or ‘Virtual Twin City’ of Singapore to provide Virtualisation Tools by 2018

As Singapore is nurturing the Smart Nation vision, it is investing in new and innovative ideas that will drive higher standard of living through increased use of technology. With this, the Singaporean government is looking for solutions that will supplement this vision and make it a reality.

At the launch of the Smart Nation programme in 2014, the National Research Foundation (NRF) unveiled plans to build a Virtual Singapore, a dynamic 3D city model and collaborative data platform with 3D maps of Singapore.

Virtual Singapore is a $73 million research and development program tasked with creating an intelligent information platform that will be used by Singapore’s citizens, businesses, government and research community to solve its emerging and complex urbanization challenges.

This platform would provide tools to derive insights, develop solutions, and run simulations using large-scale scenarios of Singapore.

OpenGov sat down with Mr. Bernard Charlès, CEO, Dassault Systemes, to discuss 2016 milestones for the Virtual Singapore project and how the 3D digital model of Singapore will aid the public sector.

During his time as CEO, Bernard Charlès has positioned Dassault Systèmes, world leader in 3D software, as the preferred partner for innovation.

Charlès firmly believes that 3D technology is about making possible the impossible. He finds that 3D universes are the most powerful vehicle for testing concepts and creating the future, bringing dream and reality together, and stretching the limits of science and imagination to drive progress in society.

“The challenge for a city is, if you ask how the city is working- nobody has a clue. People will tell you that they roughly know the energy consumption or they think they know the process for waste collection. If you ask them if they have a holistic view of how a city is working, they do not have that information,” said Mr. Charlès.

Singapore’s upcoming platform will collect and integrate data sets from several government agencies, then reveal it through the virtual twin. Provided this, the 3D Digital Model will be capitalising on the benefits of data sets, some of which previously had not been utilised.

“People do not know what to do with all of this data. Those collecting the data, are not in the best position to know what to do with it. There are also those who see the huge value in data but do not know that it exists,” stated Mr. Charlès, “Anyone navigating the virtual city will have access to useful and anonymised data that will completely change the process for decision makers and collaborators.”

Using Data to build the Virtual Twin of Singapore

The platform is secured in a computing environment which is under the control of the government. Dassault Systèmes has techniques to index data in different formats to meet the context of the city.

“We help to present the data, visualise it, and share it amongst people who have access to it,” exclaims Mr. Charlès, “The biggest problem for cities is that there is no common platform for the different disciplines to share different views and collaborate. This is the real reason for this great project in Singapore.”

Singapore’s Virtual Twin City is posed to challenge the way that people understand the city as a system. Mr. Charlès describes it as closer to a biological and living form, rather than a stationary subject.

This open innovative platform is part of getting citizens connected and social involved with their city’s development. On this note, Mr. Charlès encourages citizens to get involved with the nation’s development.

“The beauty of having citizen involvement is that they have a lot of good ideas. How do you create an open innovation environment? With an accessible platform, which is easily understood, citizens are enabled to have a voice,” said Mr. Charlès.

“In the past, when they were planning city construction, citizens were invited to the city hall to look at the drawings and give their feedback. These drawings were not always understood by the public. Now, if you have a virtual walk through a city- then citizens can navigate with ease and have a voice!”

What’s next?

At the moment, there is a lot of experimentation going on with the platform- relating to all of the different elements that could be integrated with it. In April of this year, the first prototype will be ready for use within government agencies. In 2017, the platform will be prepared for public sharing.

The final result of the platform aims to serve as the primary operating system of how the city is working and how it can be optimised. With this, the public sector may evaluate the service activities and their value to the citizens. This insight drives the Smart Nation vision for an improved quality of life in Singapore.

While the NRF is leading the project, Singapore Land Authority (SLA) is providing 3D topographical mapping data and will own and operate the project once completed. Plus, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) is providing information and communications technology expertise. 

In the future, Mr. Charlès hopes to look into using 3D technology to improve infrastructure in the Philippines, drive smart cities like Jakarta, and other nations, across the world.

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