Home > Articles > Highlights > 2022 > International Seminar on UNGGIM – “Effective Land Administration” : Welcome Address by Mr. Colin Low, Chief Executive, Singapore Land Authority

International Seminar on UNGGIM – “Effective Land Administration” : Welcome Address by Mr. Colin Low, Chief Executive, Singapore Land Authority


Good morning,

  • To our Guest of Honour, Mr. Calvin PHUADeputy Secretary, Ministry of Law, Singapore
  • Ms. QUAH Ley HoonChief Executive, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
  • Mr. Hugh LIMExecutive Director, Centre for Liveable Cities
  • Mr. Kees de ZEEUW (Pronounced Case Day Zeh-ooh)Co-Chair, United Nations Expert Group on Land Administration and Management
  • Ms. Meizyanne HICKSDirector Geospatial Information Management, Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources
  • Mr. TEO Chee HaiSenior Advisor, United Nations Secretariat – Global Geospatial Information Management

distinguished delegates from Member States, international experts, and fellow colleagues.


1.         After 2 years of virtual meetings, we are honoured to have you here with us. Welcome to sunny Singapore, though the Singapore today is certainly hotter than it was before, much like many other places across the world. It’s great to see so many experts in the same space, physically. To our friends joining online, a warm welcome as well and we hope to meet you in person soon, one way or another.

Next Slide: Coastline from Airplane

2.         To our international guests who flew here, I am not sure how many of you noticed. As your plane continued its descent towards Singapore Changi Airport, you could very quickly visualise the shape of Singapore and our entire coastline.

3.         At 730 square kilometres, land is extremely scarce in Singapore. Every square meter counts. SLA’s vision of “Limited Land, Unlimited Space” is an apt description as with competing needs, we almost need to be paranoid about land administration, ensuring the best use of every square metre of usable area. Beyond the 2- dimensions (X & Y), we need to explore the Z dimension, “stacking” spaces over one another to create more usable spaces.

4.         Other than having limited land, we are also an island. In fact, 30% of Singapore’s land lies less than 5m above current mean sea level. As such, climate change challenges such as sea-level rise poses a real and existential threat to us.

5.         To help us manage land effectively and to address climate change challenges, the Singapore Digital Twin – or SG Digital Twin in short, encompassing 3D City models, terrain models, cadastral information, underground assets, coastline, and more, provides the foundation.

6.         With SLA's National 3D Mapping programme, the entire island is captured digitally using laser scanning and photogrammetry technologies from both the air and on land.

7.         This creates a digital twin that is used for effective land management and planning in a number of initiatives which underpin sustainability efforts, in collaboration with stakeholders.

    1. The digital twin helps to take stock of our natural capital such as mangrove swamps, which serve as a carbon sink as well as the habitat for more than 40 endangered species.
    1. 3D building and terrain models help to create the Solar Potential map which identifies the best sites for solar panels with the highest return on investment. Otherwise, a blind proliferation of solar panels may instead increase the urban heat island effect.
    2. In Keeping Singapore Cool, digital terrain & buildings help to study thermal comfort and the urban heat island effect in order to adapt to climate change.
    3. Deriving a map of Flood Inundation from the digital twin, we help to quantify flood risks empirically and to protect against future flooding.

8.         The signature skyline of Singapore stands out in our Digital Twin. However, we may not be able to continue building high-rises indefinitely.

9.         Before we run out of space, we will have to explore underground spaces to free up more liveable spaces above ground for housing and recreational purposes.

10.      Certain functions may be served below ground. An example of this is the Jurong rock caverns, which frees up 60 hectares or about 84 football fields for the storage of petrochemicals.

11.      The quality of data and maps for utilities such as electricity, water and communications is notoriously variable. Contractors who rely on inaccurate underground data often take a “hit or miss” approach – all it takes is an excavation at the wrong location to cut a “live” line, resulting in the blackout of entire districts.

12.      To ensure that the data is reliable for better underground space planning, SLA is developing an ecosystem of community, including data collection techniques, regulatory standards, and Digital Twin of underground with 3D visualisation.

13.      As we move from outdoors to interior spaces, the use of LASER Scanning technology has become increasingly popular for the creation of digital Building Information Model (BIM) and indoor mapping. Whole-of-Government (WOG) agencies are working towards integrating Geographic Information System (GIS) and BIM data for effective space management and utilisation, supported by Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards.

14.      In SLA, we are piloting Building Information Model (BIM) technology for 3D Strata cadastral administration, in high-rise communal living in order to take a 3D inventory of volumetric spaces at the unit level, for each residential or commercial occupant.

15.      The SG Digital Twin also enables more effective asset design, project execution and asset operation. By leveraging on 3D datasets, spatial planning can take into account land ownership, transport accessibility, service connectivity, safety concerns, environmental considerations, and skyline aesthetics all at the same time.

16.      Public agencies can also review the proposed digital designs simultaneously with a single coordinated approval. Hence, it contributes towards the digital transformation of the AEC industry and the built environment.

17.      GeoSpace and OneMap 3D are platforms that SLA provides to government agencies and the general public for curating and sharing geospatial information. OneMap 3D allows the general public to view maps and buildings in 3D, including simulated window views from prospective homes.

18.      Last week, MPA hosted the first International Seminar on United Nations’ Global Geospatial Information Management, themed “Effective and Integrated Marine Geospatial Information Management”. Leading international experts gathered to exchange their expertise on global issues such as climate change, disaster risk management, and integration of maritime, terrestrial, and cadastral geospatial information. GeoSpace with land-based geodata and GeoSpace-Sea with marine-based geodata, exchange layers of geospatial data in both directions, benefiting hydrographic, land, and regulatory communities, removing barriers to effective spatial management.

19.      At a lunch meeting a few months back with Mr Hugh Lim of Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC), we discussed the importance of geospatial solutioning in addressing challenges in cities. In fact, many real world problems could potentially be solved with better location enabled data. Location or geospatial knowledge plays an integral role towards today’s socio-economic development. The question is how do we create more awareness about geospatial. How do we make geospatial mainstream?

20.      That’s when Hugh very graciously suggested having SLA to present the importance and benefits of geospatial solutioning at the World Cities Summit. WCS, which is organised by CLC, will be held in July this year and it will attract more than two thousand (2000) leaders representing cities around the world who gather here to innovate and improve lives of citizens worldwide.

21.      SLA will be showcasing SG Digital Twin in hope of raising awareness of location data's role in managing the city among city leaders.

22.      Today, we are happy to have Hugh Lim of CLC, to deliver the keynote address.

23.      In conclusion, Singapore is an island city state, a country and is a strong advocate of Smart Nation. Perhaps Singapore can serve as a “Living lab” where ideas can be sandboxed, test bedded etc and solutions may then be extrapolated and tailored to other countries’ needs. SLA’s Geoworks serves as a sandbox for engagement with potential industry partners, having collaborated with 21 companies and 27 start-ups, thereby promoting geospatial innovation and competencies.

24.      The SG Digital Twin is a key enabler of the United Nations’ visions of “closing the digital divide”, “leaving no one behind”, and our aspirations to be a Smart Nation,

25.      In order for Digital Twins to be effective in managing land and tackling climate change challenges, different stakeholders promoting openness and interoperability, such as UN Expert Groups and Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), public and private sectors need to work together to contribute and integrate different sources of geospatial information.

26.      We are honoured to host this UN-GGIM event whose experts developed frameworks such as Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF) and Framework for Effective Land Administration (FELA) that embody their wisdom for effective land administration.

27.      I wish all of you a fruitful seminar.

Thank you.