In this issue of LAND, we get up close and personal with Alvin Yeo from Geospatial & Data Division (GSDD). Alvin has worked with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) for four years and has just returned from his postgraduate studies in London.
Why did you choose this career?
I have always been amazed at Singapore’s ability to manage its land development to emerge as a vibrant hub in Southeast Asia. Therefore, when the opportunity for a scholarship with SLA came, I jumped at the chance to satisfy my curiosity! So here I am today.
What was your first job in SLA?
When I joined SLA, I was posted to the Land Operations Division, where I oversaw the sales of State land to the private sector. Subsequently, I was transferred to my current position in the Geospatial & Data Division, where I advocate the use of geospatial information in Singapore.
What is Geospatial?
Geospatial, also known as Geospatial Information Science (GIS), involves the collection and organization of data with a location element. As everything must happen somewhere on earth, it is possible to add a location element to almost all data. Such element could be a XY coordinate or an address. With this location element, we are then able to perform analysis on this data to derive insights. For example, we can conduct a site accessibility analysis to determine if our eldercare facilities are truly accessible to our elderly.
Tell us more about the Geospatial industry
Geospatial may sound like a very technical subject, but it is fundamentally intuitive. Geospatial-based questions such as ‘where do we go for lunch?’ and ‘how do we get there?’ are asked by us almost daily. Yet, geospatial remains an underutilized resource that when used right, could potentially benefit all of us. One of the most mature and heavily used geospatial technology is the GPS. This is a huge enabler of many applications and has helped us answer many of our questions, like the two aforementioned questions of where and how. In search of the next groundbreaking discovery, we are working on a platform called GeoWorks which aims to bring together start-ups with a geospatial focus, and help them push out their unique services to the whole of Singapore.
What are some projects you are working on currently?
There are two main projects which we are working on. The first being Virtual Singapore, the creation of our city’s virtual twin. This data-driven 3D digital replica of our city-state can provide endless opportunities, especially in the urban planning realm. Secondly, it is the establishment of a Geospatial Center of Excellence, a whole-of-government initiative, to provide professional and technical expertise and support for agencies planning to adopt geospatial capabilities to improve business processes.
Can you share some interesting aspects about working at GSDD?
I get to meet many people from different agencies. In GSDD, we encourage collaboration and interaction, which is also why our office has a modular layout and many open spaces. We also get to participate at various international events to showcase our work and learn from international experts.
What inspires you personally?
For me, inspiration comes from solving big and meaningful problems. Finding new and innovative solutions to problems thrills me. As part of my work, I have the opportunity to meet with many agencies, understand their problem statements and brainstorm ways to use GIS to solve these problems.
How did your post-graduate scholarship help in this line?
I did a Masters in Smart Cities and Urban Analytics at University College London. It has been a huge eye-opener as I get to meet and learn from many international students of various backgrounds. London is also a great place; it has a thriving start-up scene which taps on open data to create meaningful products and services. For example, Citymapper is an app that was launched in London to help citizens find the most optimum route to their destination.
The collaboration scene is also excellent in London. I had the privilege of working with the Westminister City Council for my thesis. I worked closely with their Business Intelligence team; we used crowd-sourced footfall data to deduce how people are using places in their borough. These experiences have allowed me to learn from experienced professionals and discover new ways of doing things.
In your personal opinion, is Singapore a leader or follower in Geospatial?
I personally think that Singapore is both a follower and a leader in this field. Our drive to become a Smart Nation has allowed us to implement many geospatial-based initiatives such as Virtual Singapore and geospatial-based apps such as the MSO’s OneService app and SCDF’s MyResponder app. At the global level, we also participate actively in the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UNGGIM) to promote the use of geospatial information to address key global challenges. Nevertheless, we are still a young nation and we must continue to look up to other global geospatial leaders and assimilate best practices.
LAND is a quarterly online publication by Singapore Land Authority (SLA), 55 Newton Road #12-01, Singapore 307987
Ng Siau Yong, Soh Kheng Peng and Johnson Seah
Alvin Yeo, Sim Sze-wei, Lim Hui Yan, Cheryl Lim, Cho Chui Wai, Lee Mou Jian, Amanda Poh, Justin Chua and Sean Cheng
For feedback and suggestions, write to Esther Chew
at email@example.com or call 1800-3239829