SINGAPORE - Those visiting a new neighbourhood centre in Punggol can use their smartphones to browse the retail shops' offerings, while shopkeepers can use robots to deliver goods from loading bays to their shops.
These are among the new technologies in use at the Punggol Northshore district neighbourhood centre, which was officially opened by Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Sunday morning (July 24).
Addressing Punggol residents at Northshore Plaza, Mr Lee said: “As a neighbourhood centre, we want Northshore Plaza to be well connected to the rest of Punggol, so that it is a natural place for you to gather across the town.”
He added that the new neighbourhood centre will complement other amenities in Punggol such as shopping malls and neighbourhood shops.
“One Punggol community hub is also opening progressively, starting next month. It houses a hawker centre, childcare and senior care centres,” he said, referring to the integrated community hub nearby which has been opening in stages and will feature a host of facilities including a library and a 700-seat hawker centre.
Besides technology targeted at shoppers and retail shops, other new tools such as building sensors are installed in lifts and escalators at Northshore Plaza to track how they are operating and to issue alerts when maintenance is required.
The development also sports a barrier-free smart parking system.
Called Parking@HDB, vehicle plate numbers are registered using cameras, and parking charges are automatically calculated. Motorists can pay parking fees using a mobile application by the same name.
Shoppers can also enjoy a digital shopfront and virtually browse what shops have to offer with the use of the ShopperLink app.
An autonomous mobile robot trial for goods delivery is also being conducted at Northshore Plaza for faster and more productive deliveries.
Under this trial, robots can automatically pick up and deliver goods from loading bays to shops. Suppliers can use a booking system to indicate their delivery time and book loading bay spaces to save manual labour and time.
One of the shops trialling the autonomous mobile robot is Hockhua Tonic. A retail assistant at the Chinese medicine shop, who declined to be named, told The Straits Times the robot is useful as the supplies the store receives are heavy.
“On top of using the robot, we still need manpower to carry the goods as they always arrive in large quantities, but the robot helps us save some time,” he said.
The neighbourhood centre also boasts a dragonfly pond with information panels on sustainable features in the area.
Northshore Plaza is the second new-generation neighbourhood centre to open in Punggol. The first was Oasis Terraces, a seven-storey mall built along the waterfront, which opened in 2019.
New-generation neighbourhood centres incorporate plazas, play areas and other community spaces in residential areas.
Other such centres include Buangkok Square and Hougang RiverCourt in Hougang, and Canberra Plaza in Sembawang.
Mr Teo Xiang Wei, 34, who moved into a flat with his wife and one-year old daughter in Northshore Straitsview last October, said he was impressed with the number of food options Northshore Plaza has to offer.
The business partnership manager, whose flat is a 10-minute walk from the new centre, said: "There is A&W, Song Fa Kway Chap and a really good foodcourt there. There is also Daiso, Decathlon and a 24-hour supermarket.
"It is really great to have so many amenities that are just a short walk from my home. I also heard there are two new playgrounds, so I'll definitely take my daughter there when she is a bit older."
Mr Tan Zhi Min, who moved to a flat in Punggol six years ago, said he was excited that more amenities and community spaces have been popping up in the area. His home is a five-minute drive to Northshore Plaza.
Mr Tan, 41, who is self-employed and was at the opening of the neighbourhood centre with his wife and two children, said: “We really like this place. It is so convenient and the kids love Decathlon as it keeps them entertained. It is great because you would usually see large sports stores like that in the central area.”