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S$150 million set aside to develop urban solutions for Cities of Tomorrow

SINGAPORE — The Government will set aside S$150 million for research and development of urban solutions, focusing on finding smarter ways to build and maintain infrastructure, creating new spaces for use, and a better living environment.

SINGAPORE — The Government will set aside S$150 million for research and development of urban solutions, focusing on finding smarter ways to build and maintain infrastructure, creating new spaces for use, and a better living environment.

The research initiative aims to address issues of the built environment, such as whether indoor noise can be reduced without sacrificing natural ventilation, or whether the cost of underground development can be cut as Singapore strives to move utilities, warehousing and storage facilities underground to free up more land on the surface.

Announced on Thursday (June 29) by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, the Cities of Tomorrow programme will tap the S$900 million that has been set aside for Urban Solutions and Sustainability under Singapore’s Research Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan.

The plan was announced last year and will see the Government investing S$19 billion from 2016 to 2020 to drive innovation in Singapore’s economy and society.

Cities of Tomorrow will “prioritise and focus our R&D efforts on critical areas of national concern, so that we can achieve our vision of a highly liveable and citizen-centric city with a sustainable urban ecosystem”, said Mr Wong at the Urban Sustainability R&D Congress. 

It was organised by his ministry with 16 other government agencies, involving more than 1,000 participants from government and research institutes and the private sector.

One of three key research areas is advanced construction and resilient infrastructure. The aim is to boost construction productivity through robots and automated equipment, and to use smart technologies to maintain buildings well. 

Cities of Tomorrow will also look into creating more usable underground and sea spaces in a cost-effective and environmentally sensitive way. Advances could be made in the accuracy of underground mapping and reducing the environmental impact of land reclamation.

Underground development can be two to three times more expensive than above-ground development, and research could look into more durable materials and enhancing repair techniques, for instance. 

The third key R&D area is on building a more sustainable city. Research will delve into ways to enable residents to interact closely with greenery, and live in a cooler and quieter environment, said Mr Wong. 

For example, the Building and Construction Authority and National University of Singapore are working on nanocomposite films that can convert heat to energy for more effective indoor cooling in the tropics, while improving air quality.

Cities of Tomorrow will enable Singapore to deal with the increasing complexities of running a city state, said Mr Wong. This requires greater coordination and better integration of research efforts to reap synergies, he said.

Separately, the Housing and Development Board is looking at ways to move towards a more predictive and proactive approach to maintain towns and estates, using sensors, the Internet of Things and big data. It signed a memorandum of understanding with Imperial College London and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Institute for Infocomm Research yesterday to embark on a 
S$5.3 million research programme.

The four-year programme will study how sensors and sensor networks can be enhanced to make data collection more efficient and reliable for the monitoring and analysis of estate-level services, such as lifts, water pumps and lighting.

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