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New Punggol Digital District to create 28,000 jobs, open gradually from 2023

SINGAPORE — When the Punggol Digital District opens progressively from 2023, it will create about 28,000 new jobs and offer residents additional dining, leisure and retail spots, the authorities said on Sunday (Jan 21) as they unveiled the project’s ambitious masterplan.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean pointing to a model of the Punggol Digital District at the launch of the district’s masterplan and an exhibition at Punggol’s Waterway Point mall on Sunday, Jan 21, 2018. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean pointing to a model of the Punggol Digital District at the launch of the district’s masterplan and an exhibition at Punggol’s Waterway Point mall on Sunday, Jan 21, 2018. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY

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SINGAPORE — When the Punggol Digital District opens progressively from 2023, it will create about 28,000 new jobs and offer residents additional dining, leisure and retail spots, the authorities said on Sunday (Jan 21) as they unveiled the project’s ambitious masterplan.

The new jobs that the district will house are expected to span areas such as cyber-security, data analytics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things — the network that connects physical devices and vehicles with software and sensors, among other things.

New amenities for tens of thousands of Punggol residents will include a new hawker centre equipped with electronic payment technology and an automated tray return system.

Other new features in the 50ha development in Punggol North include new childcare centres and public transport options, as well as a heritage trail and a pedestrian street.

An artist's impression of the aerial view of the Punggol Digital District. Photo: JTC

The Punggol Digital District will also be the first in Singapore to adopt an integrated masterplan approach that combines amenities for the community with a business park and a university — the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).

SIT will sit alongside a business park built by national industrial-estate developer JTC, the district’s master developer. Construction is scheduled to start this year.

Some developments, including the SIT, are set to be up and running in 2023, when the new Punggol Coast MRT Station — which will be on the new extension to the North-East Line — is also expected to be completed.

Locating the university in the district will allow industry practitioners, members of SIT’s faculty and the community to work on projects that will make an impact, SIT president Tan Thiam Soon said at a press briefing last week.

“We’re hoping to find new ways to open up SIT to benefit the industry, the way we work (and) bring industry continually (into) an exchange, and also the community,” said Professor Tan.

An artist's impression of the trail in the Punggol Digital District. Photo: JTC

For instance, SIT’s research laboratories and learning facilities could be located in the buildings of the business park.

JTC could host industry research and development facilities or even create start-up spaces in SIT’s campus, paving the way for greater partnerships between academia and businesses. This will allow them to create and test new ideas and solutions.

Launching the district’s masterplan and an exhibition at Punggol’s Waterway Point mall on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the Government was exploring moving the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore to the new district. The agency is presently based in the Ministry of National Development Complex on Maxwell Road.

“This will help create a new cluster of cyber-security and technology firms in Punggol. Our residents can, therefore, look forward to many exciting jobs of the future close to home,” said Mr Teo, who is also a Member of Parliament in the Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency.

Built to attract top digital and technology companies, the district is expected to be a fillip to the country’s digital economy and infocomm and media industry, said Ms Angeline Poh, assistant chief executive for industry development with the Info-communications Media Development Authority.

As part of the development of the district, the authorities will also employ a range of infrastructure and technology aimed at optimising land use and energy, and cutting the development’s carbon footprint.

An artist's impression of the SIT campus boulevard. Photo: JTC

SIT’s new campus, for instance, will be powered by an experimental urban micro-grid that integrates gas, electricity and thermal energy into a smart network. The network also taps into renewable energy, such as solar.

Other features planned include a “hub parking” system in which all carparks in the district are connected underground, and a pneumatic waste-conveyance system that will tap an underground pipe network to transport waste at high speed into enclosed containers.

A centralised logistics hub, served by a network of robots or autonomous vehicles, could also speed up the drop-off and delivery of goods in the district.

Elsewhere, the district will have an integrated facilities management system that will allow for central and remote monitoring, as well as analysis and control of services and systems.

This is expected to bring cost savings, said Mr David Tan, assistant chief executive for JTC’s development group.

The exhibition at the Waterway Point mall features the district’s masterplan. It will be opened to the public until next Sunday, and will move to the URA Centre on Maxwell Road from Feb 3 to 15.

Planners of new Punggol district drew inspiration from one-north

Planners for the new Punggol Digital District took one-north as a “starting point” and drew many lessons from the science hub and business park in Buona Vista, said Mr David Tan, assistant chief executive for JTC’s development group.

The one-north district, which houses a cluster of technology and media companies, was launched in 2001 and is four times the size of the Punggol development.

The planners, for instance, drew lessons on the make-up of office, residential and food-and-beverage facilities, as well as how to approach urban-design guidelines. The buildings in one-north, as an example, are closer to one another than those in other business parks, which tends to create more interaction, he added.

Mr Tan did not rule out opening up some projects in the district to private developers, as was done in one-north. JTC, the master developer for the new Punggol district, will likely build the first few developments.

“The whole area is 50ha in size, and like what we’re doing in one-north, we didn’t build everything. We catalysed the growth of, say, Biopolis and Fusionopolis and the rest of the plots (were) opened up for third parties to develop,” he added.

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