News

Tech solutions to flood, rat problems

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan on using technology to deal with recent issues that the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources faces:

FLOODS

We realised that when we gave people timely information, we would help build confidence, trust and give them an opportunity to solve problems.

We made sure that we have nearly 200 sensors in our drains which would provide early warning about rising water levels. We automated those sensors and they would send tweets out using the hashtag #sgflood.

Initially, the hashtag was used in a negative sense to make a point that Singapore has a problem with floods. But today, if you search sgflood, especially during a rainy day, the majority of tweets are from sensors from the drains.

ST FILE PHOTOS

RAT INFESTATIONS

Technology cannot replace human decision making, wisdom and responsibility. But (technology can help) with the ability to sense and anticipate problems. This would lead to quicker and more decisive action.

Every complaint is a data point. For instance, when a person makes a complaint, the information can be used to identify patterns, potential problems and solutions.

It's not a technological question. It's a frame of mind of anticipating, picking up early signals, identifying patterns and fixing the problem.


SMART NATION ACCORDING TO DR VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN

HOME

Products such as fridges, air conditioner, lights, TVs and entertainment systems will have elements of smart technology in them.

They will be connected to the Internet, finely tuned to personal taste and preference. You will be able to control your own environment in a seamless way.

SCHOOL

Technology will improve our ability to learn and remember. Access to a wider repertoire of subjects and information. Teachers won't be replaced, but they will become navigators of information and guides.

TRANSPORT

Daily commute is shortened, improved and as pleasant as possible.

You could be entertained and educated along the journey.

Driverless vehicles would mean there is no need to own a car. You can move from point A to B in the most efficient and cost-effective way, without worrying about parking or maintenance.

JOBS

Many new jobs will appear. But at the same time, many jobs might disappear, for example the routine and repetitive types which can be done by computers and machines.

Many industries involving transport, cleaning and security will be transformed. The human being would not be eliminated, but the nature, number, structure of these industries will be different.

ENTERTAINMENT

You can no longer conceive of a modern concert without a whole host of digital enhancements - bright screen behind, animations, landscape. This will progress. Future artists and musicians will have to master digital technology as it will become part of their entire production.