SINGAPORE - It looks like a city planning simulator game but Virtual Singapore - a 3-D digital model of the entire country - sets the stage for its ambition to be a smart nation with cutting-edge urban living solutions.
To be completed by 2017 at a cost of $73 million, the detailed map of Singapore will show virtual 3-D replicas of buildings, roads, trees, carpark lots and other above-ground structures.
The smart 3-D replicas are not just for looks. Individual sections of buildings, for instance, can be clicked on to find out about the material used for the windows as well as the number of hours a structure faces direct sunlight every day.
Using the model, the Government can then test-bed solutions and simulations running on top of the map to help tackle liveability issues such as crowd control, flooding and noise levels.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first announced Virtual Singapore last week as part of his 10-year goal of making Singapore a smart nation.
Yesterday, the National Research Foundation (NRF) unveiled more details during a media briefing.
Businesses such as telcos can also benefit by visualising more efficient mobile network coverage. Citizens can even choose the external wall colours of their Housing Board blocks through the virtual model while shoppers can navigate their way around malls.
Low Teck Seng, chief executive of the NRF, said: "Its potential uses are limitless."
Part of the budget is the building of the technology platform for private companies and government agencies to upload, store and share data sets which are needed to carry out the virtual test-beds.
To protect the privacy of individuals, security and data protection safeguards will also be put in place.
The most challenging part, however, will be getting the buy-in from all agencies onto the platform and integrating the disparate information from different agencies, Professor Low noted, adding that these problems will be addressed in time.
Work on the new 3-D map started last year with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) scanning the city using lasers from low-flying planes to collect landscape information.
Once Virtual Singapore is ready, SLA will own and operate it while the Infocomm Development Authority will offer technical expertise.
Tan Kok Yam, head of the new Smart Nation Programme Office which coordinates the country's smart initiatives, said: "Even for people who may not know anything about Virtual Singapore, we hope that this will be of great benefit to them - be it in mobility, noise control or city liveability."
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