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Singapore’s National Parks Board to step up use of technology for greenery management

Singapore’s National Parks Board to step up use of technology for greenery management

The National Parks
Board of Singapore reportedly
announced
that it will be adopting new and innovative technologies
to improve efficiency and greenery management. In the next three years, through
the greater use of technology, Singapore’s two million trees along roads and in
parks and gardens will be inspected and maintained more rigorously and
efficiently by the Government. This will be done through a new digitalisation masterplan which aims to use
more technologies in greenery management and nature conservation in the next
three years.

The International
Federation of Landscape Architects World Congress announced that under this
masterplan, NParks
will consolidate its technology and research initiatives into one database, named Maven. It stores information
on park planning and facilities data, tree information, biodiversity data,
vegetation maps and satellite maps. The database information can then be
accessed by NParks officers on their mobile devices to obtain data on trees,
parks, and gardens anywhere anytime.

NParks will focus on
using technology to improve three main areas: tree
management and inspection, nursery management, and nature conservation and
biodiversity management.

Currently, the
National Parks Board (NParks) is testing an electronic tilt sensor, an
Inclinometer, which is placed on mature trees. It aims to detect signs of
leaning in these trees which could result in structural instability. With the
sensor data, NParks officers can take better measures to prevent accidents.

Other technologies
include:

i.  A Sonic
Tomograph: An advanced-level diagnostic tool used to provide a picture of the internal condition of a tree without having to
drill into it. It does so by measuring the velocity of sound waves in wood.

ii. A
Resistograph: NParks currently uses resistograph
models for tree and timber assessment. They come in different drilling depths
to allow for diverse site situations and the various sizes of the urban forest
populations.

iii. Telescopic
Video Camera: Using the on-ground video feed provided by a camera attached to
a  telescopic pole, a tree inspector can
more efficiently monitor and record the condition of the various parts of the
tree’s crown. The cameras can stream live and record videos so that managers
can gain critical, time-sensitive information when needed. Video footage can
also be used to verify that greenery tasks have been completed, reducing the
need for staff to conduct physical verifications.

iv. 3D Tree
Model: This project seeks to develop effective
tools and techniques to create accurate 3D models of trees using light
detection and ranging data that NParks officers can use to conduct modelling studies of the trees and as an
additional tool to determine the maintenance needs of a tree. For example, they
can study the effects of environmental conditions of wind on the stability of a tree using the 3D model.

v.  Smart
Irrigation System: The smart irrigation system is linked to weather and soil
humidity sensors and can automatically trigger the watering of plants during
dry weather conditions. This watering is tailored to the water needs of
individual species.

A fleet management
system is also being developed. It will consist of GPS trackers, sensor devices
and video camera recorders installed on vehicles used by NParks contractors performing
greenery work.

One project involves
tree inspection microdrones. Since 2017, the lightweight drones have been used
as quick and effective tools to inspect tree crowns from the air allowing
officers to obtain valuable images and videos from perspectives which would
have been impossible to get without a trained arborist physically climbing the
tree.

On the conservation
side, it is developing a prototype forest fire detection system to continuously
monitor Singapore’s nature reserves. The system is expected to be able to
differentiate between varying fire conditions to pre-empt changing weather
patterns. The use of such a system reduces the manpower needed for patrolling
nature reserves, especially during dry seasons, and enables the timely
deployment of resources for fire-fighting.

These projects will complement
NParks’ existing technology initiatives for tree inspection and management.