INSTEAD of containers being driven out on trucks, a new underground transportation system may be doing the job when the new "Tuas megaport" opens.
A seamless underground goods mover system could connect the port to nearby warehousing facilities when it is expected to be operational in around 10 years.
This is one "land and liveability" idea being looked at by the Government, among several it may consider for a share of $135 million in research and development funding over the next five years.
Another is 2West, a mixed-used township being looked into by JTC Corporation, which integrates residential, industrial and research uses in areas such as CleanTech Park, Nanyang Technological University and Tengah- which could be linked by underground networks.
"We face the continuous challenges of creating more usable space and optimising the use of land to support future growth," said Ministry of National Development (MND) deputy secretary Tay Kim Poh.
"By seeking innovation to overcome common challenges, Singapore can pioneer the development of practical, scalable and replicable urban solutions that can benefit our long-term future as well as other cities."
He was speaking at Singapore's Urban Sustainability Research and Development Congress at Biopolis yesterday.
The underground goods mover system - still in an exploratory phase - would reduce traffic congestion on roads and free up land space for other uses, Mr Tay said.
It could work by using automated systems or self-driven cars.
Other ideas include the development of sensors to remotely monitor the health of the elderly and an enhanced use of data to provide better municipal services and traffic management. Researchers might also be working in an underground science city in Kent Ridge.
Firms and institutions will competefor funding under the National Innovation Challenge on Land and Liveability (L2NIC), announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last year.
The first official grant call for projects will be made by the end of this year, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan said yesterday.
Government agencies have talked to researchers and industry players, sought out potential concepts and established areas where more research and development is needed.
The L2NIC team has identified four key research areas: Creating underground spaces, optimising land use, creating liveable community-centred cities and use of technology for intelligent decision making.
MND has also awarded $8 million in research funds under the Sustainable Urban Living fund to four projects.
These include one that uses excavated soil to create greener underground carpark walls. "It is more cost-effective. We can use excavated soil to build, we can grow plants on carpark walls so they don't look like only concrete," said Mr Alan Tan, senior principal architect from the Housing Board.
Additionally, the MND has earmarked $25 million for new R&D into green technologies, Mr Lee said.
He also gave out the Minister for National Development R&D Awards yesterday, which recognised innovative projects. HDB's Punggol Waterway clinched the top prize for providing green living spaces along a waterway.
Two other projects - one which turns waste concrete into construction material and another which increases energy efficiency in water reclamation - won merit awards.
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