Location-based data technology more crucial than before amid Covid-19 pandemic

The technology can be used to help contain the spread of Covid-19 through solutions such as crowd management applications. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Geospatial, or location-based data, technology is more crucial now amid the pandemic as it can be used to help contain the spread of Covid-19 through solutions such as crowd management applications.

This sentiment was shared by several speakers at the virtual launch of Singapore Geospatial Week+ on Wednesday (Sept 9) morning, an event promoting the importance and growth of geospatial technology in Singapore and beyond.

Mr Simon Ong, acting chief executive of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), said: "The importance of geospatial (technology) cannot be emphasised more, especially in today's environment."

Other than crowd management applications, which allow citizens to make informed choices to protect themselves when heading out, he noted how the technology can also be used as a collaborative tool in response to the pandemic.

"By combining different data types and technology based on location, businesses can understand people's movement patterns and deploy the necessary resources to protect their staff and the community," he added.

Smart Nation and Digital Government deputy secretary Tan Kok Yam described geospatial technology as "a key capability of a smart nation".

"Location binds all our activities, and understanding the spatial and temporal aspects of these activities is key to gaining awareness and insight to predict situations, respond to problems and address challenges," he said.

"Therefore, geospatial technology and approaches can help us respond to the pandemic more effectively. Dashboards have sprouted... to enable authorities to track what's going on."

He brought up the example of the United States, which combines the use of its social vulnerability index - which determines the resilience of a community when faced with external stresses such as a pandemic - with population data and hospital location information, to predict which communities would need more hospital beds or healthcare workers.

But geospatial technology is not just for the authorities and planners. It is also used to keep citizenry informed, he added.

In Singapore, the open data-sharing platform OneMap provides citizens with Covid-19-related community information, such as where one can go to collect a free face mask, he said.

Developed by the SLA, OneMap is a free local intelligent map service that is regularly updated with information contributed by government agencies.

Besides using it to navigate their way around the country, users can search for information such as which schools are within 1km of a selected building, or find out population information, such as the number of people in a certain age group who live in a specific area.

Next week will see the launch of the beta version of OneMap3D, a three-dimensional upgrade of the system which uses 3D models and renderings to project how buildings look in a neighbourhood, even for buildings that are not yet constructed.

The Singapore Geospatial Week, which is running until Sept 18, is organised by SLA's geospatial industry centre GeoWorks and will offer more than 60 webinars on all things related to geospatial tech.

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