Spatially Enabling Singapore
Singapore Land Authority

The Problem

Spatial data is different from textual data. For example, spatial data allows visualization and enables layers to be mashed-up/overlaid with each other for analysis. For example, by spatialising location of dengue clusters in Singapore and sharing the information with the public, public awareness can be raised more easily. With better visualization, it will be much easier for agencies to develop action plans to manage the issue. This layer can also be overlaid with, for example, the locations of childcare centres in Singapore to analyze the exposure of young children to dengue mosquitoes. Demographic and household data are highly valuable people-related information in formulating government policies and making business decisions. Such data are traditionally presented in textual format. Making them into geospatial format would widen the opportunities of usage and analysis when combined with other types of spatial data.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The team set out to explore different ways to make demographic and household data available to government agencies and the public in geospatial layers. The solution was to obtain publicly available statistics from the Department of Statistics (DOS) website and convert the textual data into a spatial format. The spatial data layer is represented by the textual data which has been geocoded in GIS (i.e. data that contains a location and can be plotted on a map). These data layers are then made available for use by agencies through SG-SPACE’s intranet platform – GeoSpace, where layers can be downloaded, mashed-up and analysed easily. This project has created a great impact in making highly demanded data available to agencies.

SLA will make available these geospatial layers of demographic and household data with members of the public. We will be developing an application in the government map portal (OneMap – which can be accessed by the public at large) where members of the public can search, view, overlay and analyse mash-ups of demographic and household data layers with other layers available within OneMap. This will greatly enhance decision making by businesses and members of the public, and allow knowledge discovery to take place when different layers are been mashed up and analysed

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
This initiative was brainstormed, formulated and implemented by the Geospatial Planning and Policy team within the Geospatial Division of the SLA. The team is concurrently the secretariat for the whole-of-government SG SPACE programme. This initiative was approved by the Coordinating Committee of SG SPACE which comprises more than 10 government agencies and co-chaired by the Chief Executive Officers of the SLA and IDA.

The project team collaborated with many other agencies in data sourcing and portrayal. Agencies such as Department of Statistics (DOS), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), National Environment Agency (NEA) and Ministry of Health (MOH) have rendered great help in making this project possible. Such collaboration has greatly enhanced the bonding and strengthened the relationships between the agencies, paving the way forward for further collaboration and problem solving at a Whole of Government (WOG) level.

Starting with the 4500 datasets published by DOS, the team worked very closely with agencies such as DOS, URA and Housing and Development Board (HDB) to convert more than 26 types of textual data to geospatial layers before uploading them into GeoSpace. These layers will be made available to members of the public via OneMap portal once the application within OneMap is developed.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
SG-SPACE (Singapore Geospatial Collaborative Environment) is Singapore National Spatial Data Infrastructure - a national initiative which aims to provide a platform and mechanism for create a sustainable environment to share and use geospatial data which is interoperable, accessible and usable. This collaborative effort is jointly driven by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore. Together, the two Statutory Boards jointly lead the whole-of-government effort to develop and implement SG-SPACE. This project of geocoding demographic and household data and sharing them in GeoSpace and OneMap is part of SG-SPACE’s strategy to introduce a richer and more useful content of geospatial information for sharing and use by the government and the public.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The team went through the following process to select, obtain, convert as well as share the data layers with all govt agencies via GeoSpace.
1. Comb through more than 4500 government datasets to sieve out valuable datasets that could be converted into geospatial layers.
2. Obtain the textual data from respective owner agencies.
3. Convert the datasets through process of “geo-coding” in GIS software.
4. Publish and share the spatial data layers in GeoSpace.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
As there were more than 4500 government datasets, much time and effort were needed to analyse the textual data that could be converted into geospatial layers.
Overcoming the obstacle
The project team adopted a positive attitude and mindset as well as looking from a WOG perspective that the centralised effort of the team in converting and sharing new datasets within the public sector agencies would raised productivity and eliminated duplicative work thus realising the concept of “Do once, use many times”.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The geospatial team at SLA comprises officers skilled in using geospatial software to view, analyse, convert and prepare data in different formats. The planning, coordination, sourcing, data conversion and communication efforts in this project were done by existing resources with the geospatial policy and planning team in the Singapore Land Authority.

No financial expenditure was incurred. The team leveraged existing GeoSpace and OneMap platforms in making the data available to other government agencies.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Through this project, we hope to be a positive influence to other agencies, enabling them to realize the value and the immense potential of spatial data and mash-ups. This project aims to proliferate the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and data sharing among government agencies to deliver WOG outcomes and benefits.
For instance, the MOH could overlay the venues of hospital emergency departments with demographic information from DOS to assist with the identifications of gaps in service provision. Through collaboration with Singapore Police Force (SPF)’s Traffic Police Department, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) could superimpose traffic accident locations with their road network data for a comprehensive and intelligent visualisation of accident analysis and management. By harnessing GIS technology, government agencies would be able to make better, informed decisions in areas such as strategic planning, operations management, research studies, homeland security, crime prevention and risk management.
This project was presented to the SG-SPACE Coordinating Committee chaired by the Chief Executives of SLA and IDA. Members of the committee include senior management from MHA, ACRA, MINDEF, DOS, IDA and MOH. The Committee was very pleased with the outcome – the usefulness and potential for value-add generated by the new layers.
They see it as a good showcase and initiative of what can be done for many other agencies and it helps businesses to reach out to their customers and cater to their needs through the analysis of business data with population profiles of Singapore. It is an example of the kind of public data mash-ups that could bring real value to businesses and the public and at very little additional cost since it relies on data that is already existing and publicly available.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Firstly the team possessed a clear understanding of the goal and was imbued with a strong mandate and the authority to pursue it. Our objective was clear – to make available fundamental demographic information in spatial form to government agencies in order to move closer towards the vision of SG-SPACE.
We were well poised to deliver results, being the lead executive agency for SG-SPACE. In addition, we identified the stakeholders upfront and obtained their approval for and commitment to the project, as well as support from the SLA management, in order to kickstart and sustain the efforts which brought the initiative to fruition.
A critical success factor was that of simplicity. Our solution leveraged on existing expertise (in geo-coding) and technical platforms (GeoSpace) instead of re-inventing the wheel. We were able to identify the most effective way of tackling the problem at hand; and what emerged was a low-cost, transferable solution which is set to consistently expand the Singapore government’s geospatial database.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Singapore Land Authority
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Mitsy Ng
Title:   Senior Executive  
Telephone/ Fax:   64783598
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   55 Newton Road
Postal Code:   307987
City:   Singapore
State/Province:   Singapore
Country:   Singapore

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