Singapore funds innovative tech for climate-resilient infrastructure for small island developing states

Oleh Si Ying Thian

Singapore’s tech promotion agency, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), is partnering with UNDP to run two calls for data-driven innovations to manage coastal risk and transport infrastructure for 39 developing states.

The two innovation calls focus on a data-driven approach for a more climate-resilient infrastructure in small island developing states (SIDS). Image: Canva.

Small island developing states (SIDS) are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, making up more than 60% of the countries suffering the highest losses from climate-related disasters, according to the United Nations.


There are currently 39 SIDS across the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

Transportation is earmarked a key development priority in building more climate-resilient infrastructure. Image: Canva.

Recognising SIDS' unique and particular vulnerabilities, Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and UNDP are collaborating on two open calls for data-driven innovations to manage coastal risk, and transport infrastructure.


Selected innovators will be provided S$25,000 (US$18,394) worth of funding for each call to test and iterate solutions, in partnership with SIDS, UNDP and other partners.


The transportation of people and goods has been earmarked a key development priority, stated UNDP’s official statement, but remains a challenge to SIDS due to its high costs and complexity involved.


The impact of climate change exacerbates the risk for transport infrastructure, such as through flooding, coastal erosion, and high temperatures.

Focus on a data-driven approach


Both calls are focused on a data-driven approach to improve coastal risk management or the resilience of transport infrastructure.


In Fiji, satellite data is currently being used – alongside geospatial intelligence and machine learning solutions – to analyse and evaluate climate-related changes over time in aspects such as sea-level rise, flooding, coastal management and more.


As for transport infrastructure, expanding road networks can be costly and disruptive for SIDS given their scarce land resources. However, intelligent traffic management systems can help to optimise planning and use of transportation systems.


These examples were highlighted in UNDP’s recently published report on the role of digital in catalysing SIDS’ development, which emphasised core digital and data infrastructure as key to building inclusive and resilient infrastructure.

More details about the innovation calls


Innovators can either tap on existing data sources, or develop tools to collect and analyse more accurate data for their solutions, UNDP’s promotional post explained.

Two challenge statements currently listed on IMDA's OIP website. Image: IMDA's Open Innovation Platform (OIP).

For coastal risk management, the innovations should improve the measurement of the relationship between land height and sea level. The solutions will be tested and iterated in Pacific SIDS first, and possibly scaled in other SIDs.


For transport infrastructure, the innovations should contribute to a more accurate map to improve the management and use of infrastructure and assets in SIDS, which includes roads, footpaths, rail networks, airstrips, airports, and bus stops.


The innovations would also be assessed based on their capacity to allow for future investment, planning and priorities.


The calls will be hosted on IMDA’s open innovation platform (OIP), a virtual crowdsourcing platform that matches innovations with problem statements.


The two problem statements are currently listed on OIP’s website, and calls are targeted at innovative technologies and ways of tackling the problem statements.


The calls will close on 26 April 2024, 4.00pm (GMT +8).

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