Data, immersive tech and crowdsourcing will be key tools for future planners, the head of Singapore’s 3D planning platform has said.

City planning will be more “data-driven”, George Loh, Director of Programmes at the National Research Foundation, said at the GovInsider Strategic Breakfast, held in partnership with Dassault Systemes.

Loh leads the Virtual Singapore project – a 3D simulation of the city to help officials and planners use data to make decisions. “A lot of times we plan based on what we know or what knowledge we have. But today with IOT devices, we could collect a lot of data and use the data well for planning,” he said.

Virtual Singapore, for instance, is being used to map indoor spaces in 3D. This can be used to simulate and plan emergency response, such as evacuation during an terror attack or natural disaster.

Second, immersive technologies like virtual reality will play a bigger part in city planning, he said. “It gives you that experience to be able to understand, appreciate and give you some intuition of the change that you are going to deliver,” he added.

For example, the Urban Redevelopment Authority is using virtual reality to improve pedestrian and cycling facilities. It has worked with researchers to build a 3D model of the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood, and simulated how a car-free district would feel like.

Virtual Yuhua

Finally, the future of planning is participatory, Loh said. “With all these new technologies, crowdsourcing and participatory kind of planning will be more prevalent and more effective from delivering things,” he said.

Researchers, for instance, have used virtual reality to get feedback from citizens on what cycling through Tiong Bahru feels like.

It can also be used to communicate with citizens better. For instance, officials are building a virtual version of Yuhua – a test-bedding site for Smart Nation projects – to allow residents to better understand how future homes will look.

George Loh was giving a speech on ‘Virtual Singapore and The Future of Planning’. It was part of a Strategic Futures Breakfast organised by GovInsider and Dassault Systemes.

Virtual Yuhua image: National Research Foundation Singapore, Singapore Land Authority, Government Technology Agency of Singapore, Dassault Systèmes