App helps walkers stay dry when it rains

LTA plans to include sheltered walkways, cycling paths in award-winning mobile app

COMING up soon: Pedestrians and cyclists will know the exact routes to get from one place to another - without once getting drenched in the rain or even having to use busy, potentially hazardous roads.

That is when the Land Transport Authority (LTA) updates its mobile app.

For a start, the agency plans to map out the locations of covered walkways on its mobile app, MyTransport.SG. This will help pedestrians navigate from bus stops or MRT stations to a destination on rainy days without getting wet, said LTA chief executive Chew Hock Yong.

Plans are already in place to add 200km of linkways to the 46km in place currently, by 2018. With the maps, pedestrians "can figure out how to get from X to Y - even if it's not the most direct way - under a shelter and not get wet".

Mr Chew disclosed this yesterday on the sidelines of the e-Government Excellence Awards (GEA), which recognise innovative use of information technology by government agencies to enhance their operations and deliver citizen services.

Jointly organised by the Ministry of Finance and Infocomm Development Authority, the biennial awards this year are an extension of the Web Excellence Awards first held in 2009.

The latter used to recognise only the best government websites.

Five more categories, such as best e-Services and data sharing, have been added this year.

Mr Chew added that with plans also under way to expand the network of off-road cycling paths, the agency aims to add a directory of these paths to the app. This will help cyclists navigate from one town to another without having to use the roads.

The app now maps out cycling paths in areas such as Tampines and Pasir Ris, which are cycling towns.

At the moment, the paths "are a little disjointed", so the idea is to "connect them islandwide". Mr Chew said: "Just like we have a street directory in Singapore (for roads), you'll have a directory of cycling paths."

In March, the Transport Ministry said another 90km of cycling paths will be added, bringing the total network of such dedicated off-road paths to 210km in 16 towns by 2020.

Mr Chew declined to say when these two features - covered walkways and cycling paths - will be made available but said they will be progressively added to the app.

LTA clinched top accolades at the GEA for the MyTransport.SG app and an open data initiative, DataMall, in the mobile services and data sharing categories respectively.

MyTransport.SG sees an average of three million page views a month and provides information such as real-time bus arrival timings at more than 200 bus stops. The information will be expanded to bus stops islandwide by next month.

The biggest winner of the awards this year is the Housing Board, which bagged three awards. It clinched a top spot in the e-Services category for its electronic document management system, MyDoc@HDB.

The system allows public housing applicants to submit electronic or scanned documents to HDB, reducing the amount of paperwork required.

The agency also clinched two merit awards for its website and app, Mobile@HDB.

The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources won in the best website category, while the Ministry of Defence was awarded best in "people engagement" for its YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Winners were selected based on public votes and judged by a panel from the private sector.