Keynote speech by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) Chief Executive Colin Low, at the Global Space & Technology Convention (GSTC) 2021, 7 June 2021
Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I remember when I was growing up in the 80s as a kid, I was fascinated by this cartoon series. It wasn’t Superman because flying through the air was humanly impossible. It was this: – The Jetsons. If you know this, it would reveal your age. I think the younger folks among us may not be so familiar. But just to let you know, the original series was first created in 1962, 60 years ago. It was futuristic, the marriage of space, technology and imagination.
- Cars flying in the air - think of drones and global positioning right now;
- Video calls, which we cannot do without, and I think more so now during the pandemic;
- Mobile devices, smart watches and tablet computers; and
- Robot helpers with laser scanning capabilities.
This was 60 years ago. Was it incredible then? Yes. Farfetched? As we now know, not entirely. The Jetsons was premised on something undeniable – technological breakthrough and advancement.
2. Befittingly, it is a great honour for SLA to be part of Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC) 2021. Today marks yet another important milestone in our continuous journey in leading nation-wide precise positioning infrastructure and services development.
A mature Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)
3. On the global stage, the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) is ubiquitous today and progressing towards future developments of automation and smart city type applications. Comprising the American GPS, Russian GLONASS, European Union GALILEO, Chinese BeiDou and Japanese QZSS, this grouping of positioning satellite systems is used as the driving force across professional applications as well as by each of us, with our mobile devices.
4. The first positioning satellite system, the American GPS with 24 satellites, achieved full operational status in 1993. Within 26 years, the whole GNSS system has grown to over 120 satellites orbiting the Earth.
GNSS in our digital world today
5. In the digital world that we now live in, with the advent of data on- demand applications and the Internet-of-things, increasingly, many more applications will be reliant on GNSS for positioning, navigation and monitoring.
6. Food delivery services like Grabfood, Food Panda and Deliveroo, and many other convenience-based service applications, are developed with location-based information. Where you are, where you order your food from, which delivery personnel is closest and available, the optimum delivery route, what time is the food coming, how far? All these rely on the presentation of data and are reliant on positioning from GNSS.
7. Even in the gaming world, GNSS is a silent driver in the background, enabling the success of games like Pokemon Go, popular among kids and adults.
Industry application of precise GNSS
8. Today, GNSS is heightened with centimetre accuracy with precise GNSS and this is provided through SLA’s Singapore Satellite Positioning Reference Network (SiReNT). SiReNT enables users to achieve positioning accuracy and precision of up to 3 centimetres and even higher precision of up to 5 millimetres when using post-processed solutions.
9. Precise GNSS has been crucial for professional and critical level applications like surveying, mapping, operations of autonomous vehicles, robots, etc. We believe there is immense potential for this to be leveraged further, in our digital landscape of the future.
10. Surveying and mapping in Singapore have long benefitted from the use of precise GNSS techniques to enhance and in some cases, replace traditional manual and resource intensive methods. The use of precise GNSS has not only enhanced the efficiency, but also the effectiveness and reliability of surveying and mapping processes and outcomes.
11. Even for SLA’s national mapping of Singapore to produce 2D and 3D images, precise GNSS is a key driver to provide the reference of the maps and point clouds to our national reference frame. This enables an operating interface of the mapping products and services between users and applications.
Precise GNSS for smart nation and futuristic developments
12. In Singapore, we have already seen Precise GNSS implemented across various uses. The development of autonomous platforms like self-driving vehicles, drones, self-mobility robots, etc require lane accuracy positioning and navigation. Precise GNSS provides the absolute positioning to support other relative sensors like LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) and videogrammetry which can propagate positions based on the initial position provided by precise GNSS.
13. In recent years, construction applications have increasingly adopted the use of precise GNSS to enhance automation through digitalisation. SiReNT’s precise GNSS services have enabled applications like precision piling, semi-autonomous tower crane systems, a worksite height detection system, as well as the automation of various construction machineries.
SiReNT as a reliable, precise GNSS infrastructure and service
14. SiReNT has been enabling precise GNSS in Singapore since 2006. Today, it is the authoritative Continuous Operating Reference Stations (CORS) network in Singapore, providing Real-Time Kinematics (RTK), Differential GNSS (DGNSS) and Post Process On Demand (PP On-Demand) services for various requirements and applications.
15. Processes with statutory requirements, like the surveying of land boundaries and the land area for the conveyancing of land lots, as well as demarcation and delimitation work on international boundaries, both leverage on SiReNT for the absolute positioning and reference to Singapore’s reference frame.
Mitigating the risks against GNSS vulnerabilities
16. With the increasing usage of GNSS in our society and industries, threats such as signal jamming and spoofing can become a major area of concern. It is especially so for precise GNSS users, where any misinformation derived from signal spoofing or the denial of service by jamming can have undesirable and dire consequences.
17. At SLA, the SiReNT team has embarked on projects that will develop the capabilities to identify jamming and spoofing threats in Singapore. One such project is the development of a system that will detect jamming and spoofing for all GNSS users at their location via a mobile app connected to SiReNT. This is being developed via a collaboration between Nanyang Technological University, University of Tokyo, University of Glasgow and SLA.
18. Through this convention, we hope to be able to drive knowledge-sharing and develop closer collaboration between the industry and users to mitigate such risks.
19. It is no doubt that precise GNSS is here to stay. It will empower users and developers of applications, and support Singapore’s journey towards becoming a Smart Nation.
20. The GNSS Innovation Challenge that SLA is organising with SSTL, is an initiative to tap into limitless imagination of tertiary and junior college students to create social applications leveraging on precise GNSS for the positioning and care of elderlies with dementia and those with special needs.
21. In our limited land with unlimited space, we hope to draw out limitless innovation, like The Jetsons, or the creators of The Jetsons, into the possibilities that precise GNSS can bring to benefit Singapore and beyond. I wish one and all a good day ahead. Thank you.