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Planning analytics made easier

Nurdianah Md Nur | June 3, 2013
To help facilitate land use planning, Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority developed a multi-platform portal allowing planners to easily analyse various information on desktops and iPads.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) strives to create a vibrant and sustainable city of distinction by planning and facilitating Singapore's physical development in partnership with the community. Planners therefore need various information to help them make informed decisions when planning for Singapore's urban development.

To help them achieve this, the URA uses Geographic Information System (GIS) and 3D urban model technology for land use planning. URA recently implemented the iPad-enabled ePlanner system, which consolidates planning information into a single and user-friendly portal, in September 2012. The agency said that it is the first planning authority in the world to implement such a system.

Information at your fingertips
"Before the implementation of the ePlanner system, planners needed to go through many enterprise systems to retrieve relevant information that is required for land use planning. It takes several steps to retrieve these bits of information, some of which are quite complex," said Goh Siow Chong, director for Information Systems, Applications of the Information Systems & Geospatial Group, URA.

The developers of the ePlanner system overcame this problem by integrating both internal and external data from various systems into a single portal that provides planners with data visualisation and advance spatial analytics capabilities. "With this design, planners can access and analyse all land-use planning information at a single touch," said Chan Sing Eu, Executive Systems Analyst of Information Systems & Geospatial, URA.

Forty nation-wide geospatial datasets under 10 categories from 15 different sources were included in the ePlanner system during the initial launch. The categories of datasets shared include planning, Development Control, Conservation, property market, land sales, car parks, external maps, analytics, 3D models and real-time data. External data, such as Google Map and Street Views, OneMap from Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and traffic information from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), were also tapped for the ePlanner system.

With all this information readily available on a single portal, the time and effort spent for cross-department consultation were significantly reduced. Planners could easily make sense of complex data and derive new insights to drive business decisions from it. For instance, a planner could retrieve information on recently approved developments for a particular area, the Design Guidelines for Night Lighting with just a few clicks on the ePlanner system.

Connected anywhere, anytime
Another feature of the ePlanner system is that it allows planners to access information even when they are out of the office in iPads via 3G and LTE. While having systems that can run on different devices is not new, the development process of the ePlanner system differs from other similar systems. "The ePlanner system was designed with a tablet and mobile-first approach, where the program was designed and developed first for the iPad before it was adapted for the desktop with the same programming codes," said Goh.


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