SINGAPORE - Local construction companies can access a new $20 million fund to offset the cost of adopting advanced digital solutions to help keep work sites safe.
The initiative announced on Tuesday (Sept 1) provides funding for up to 80 per cent of the cost of digital equipment, subject to a cap of $200,000 for each firm.
The digital equipment includes thermal scanners, biometric facial recognition systems, artificial intelligence (AI) cameras and Bluetooth-enabled wearables.
The $20 million Advanced Digital Solutions scheme, as it is called, is supported by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority.
National Development Minister Desmond Lee told participants at the virtual opening of the International Built Environment Week 2020 that the construction sector has made good progress in restarting work but is not yet "out of the woods" as the risk remains of a resurgence of Covid-19 infections.
"Adopting digital solutions can allow our firms to resume work safely, despite the challenges posed by physical distancing measures," said Mr Lee, who is also Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration.
"Even as we deal with immediate restart issues, we must continue to improve our work processes to remain viable in a Covid-19 world."
He noted that high-tech solutions can reduce reliance on manpower, minimise face-to-face contact, enhance productivity and ensure business continuity.
More than 90 per cent of construction projects had been approved to resume work as at mid-August.
The sector has been one of the hardest-hit industries amid the fallout from the pandemic, contracting 97.1 per cent from the first to the second quarter.
The Government has launched a $1.36 billion Construction Support Package to help cushion the impact.
Other measures include the Jobs Support Scheme, which has been extended to March next year to provide wage support for local employees and waivers and rebates on foreign worker levies.
Help is also coming from the BCA, in partnership with the Singapore Institute of Architects, the Institution of Engineers Singapore and the Association of Consulting Engineers Singapore.
It will launch a new cloud-based digital platform in November with standard specifications for architectural and engineering works that can be adapted and customised by firms for building projects.
The Intelligent National Productivity and Quality Specifications aims to boost efficiency and quality across the construction process.
One feature will allow design consultants to access building specifications so they avoid the time-consuming process of creating them from scratch.