MRT glitch: 'Team SG cooperation solved mystery'

Passengers switching between the East West Line and the Circle Line at Buona Vista Station.
Passengers switching between the East West Line and the Circle Line at Buona Vista Station. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

All for one - this was the spirit behind the solving of a mysterious glitch that had recently affected the MRT Circle Line.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen highlighted the role that officers from the Government Technology Agency (GovTech), which is barely a month old, played. Together with volunteers from other agencies, such as the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), they found out that a train with faulty equipment was sending out rogue signals which forced other trains in its vicinity to brake.

He described how they spent many hours crunching data and identified a 'zig-zag' pattern which pointed to a train being the source of the interference. They shared this data with the combined teams assembled by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Ministry of Transport, which then narrowed it down to a particular train.

Further testing showed that it was the source of the problem which affected the Circle Line in August and earlier this month, and not telco signals as initially suspected.

Said Dr Ng: "The Circle Line disruption showed what Team SG can do together. No one agency can have all the abilities, but combined insights from various sources help solve problems effectively and quicker."

EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION

The Circle Line disruption showed what Team SG can do together. No one agency can have all the abilities, but combined insights from various sources help solve problems effectively and quicker.

DEFENCE MINISTER NG ENG HEN

GovTech, set up early last month to harness the latest technology to make life easier for residents, has a brain bank which includes 1,800 data scientists, technologists and engineers. Added Dr Ng: "We can all take comfort that we have depth of science and engineering prowess across LTA, GovTech, DSTA, DSO National Laboratories and many other government agencies to help solve problems in our technologically-driven world."

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim also described how the GovTech specialists were able to take a step back, look at the data, and detect a pattern.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event yesterday, he added that the Government is looking at doing more to introduce children from an early age to data science, calling it "a very powerful tool to help us solve problems".

Felicia Choo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'MRT glitch: 'Team SG cooperation solved mystery''. Print Edition | Subscribe