PUB to trial smarter system for flood detection during the north-east monsoon season

Flooded roads in the Bukit Timah area.
Flooded roads in the Bukit Timah area.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE -The national water agency PUB is set to trial a smarter flood detection system that uses image analytics technology when the north-east monsoon hits in December.

The system, created with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*star)'s Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), will be used to scan real-time PUB CCTV footage and detect images with flood water.

The PUB will tap its 170 CCTVs and 200 water level sensors, along with weather information, in the 24/7 PUB operations centre.

The agency said in a joint media release with the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) on Wednesday (Nov 18) that the real-time data from its network of water level sensors installed in major drains and canals, will be used together with weather information.

For example, when a nearby water level sensor detects rising water levels, the system will start to analyse the corresponding CCTV images, said the PUB.

Subsequently, an alert will be triggered through an analytics dashboard to notify PUB officers when the system detects flood water from the analysis.

Mr Ridzuan Ismail, PUB's director of Catchment and Waterways, said: "The automated detection of floods through the CCTV image analytics technology will aid in speedier alerts and quick response."

According to the MSS, the wet phase of the north-east monsoon is expected to start in early December and extend to the end of January 2016. The season is characterised by short moderate to heavy thundery showers mainly in the afternoon and evening, and with about two to four episodes of monsoon surges.

In addition to the regular weather forecast, the MSS will issue warnings when heavy rain or prolonged rain is expected, in addition to the regular weather forecast.

The PUB said it is also working closely with the National Environment Agency (NEA)'s Department of Public Cleanliness (DPC) to monitor and ensure that public drains are properly maintained, function effectively and remain free-flowing.

Apart from reminding building contractors to conduct checks on public drains around their construction sites, PUB has also recently completed inspecting about 100 major construction sites around the island to ensure that public drains within and around the worksites are free of debris and are smooth-flowing.

The agency said it is also keeping the public informed by distributing flood advisories to about 500 residents and shop houses in low-lying areas. Some of these areas are subject to tidal influence and could experience localised flash floods should heavy rain coincide with high tides.

The advisory provides precautionary tips that residents and shop owners could take to protect their belongings, such as by storing them on higher ground or installing flood barriers at entrances, such as by using boards shored up with sandbags.