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Singapore's NEA and IBM to build advanced analytics

T.C. Seow | July 4, 2012
The National Environment Agency is collaborating with IBM to harness advanced analytics to improve environmental services related to air, weather and public health.

The Singapore National Environment Agency (NEA) and IBM researchers will begin developing advanced modelling and predictive capabilities to address key environmental concerns in Singapore such as air quality, extreme weather events, dengue outbreaks and food poisoning incidents.

The collaboration, which comes under a joint development agreement between the two organisations, will enable researchers from NEA and IBM's mathematical experts to harness the wide capabilities of advanced analytics -- including the ability to capture data in real time and turn this unstructured information into intelligence, or even predictive insight that facilitates smarter decisions.

Leveraging real-time environmental data from NEA's environmental sensor networks, the predictive environmental capabilities to be developed under the collaboration will help NEA officers to take timely and effective action to mitigate environmental pollution and public health risks.

The information gathered from the models developed under the collaboration will help other public agencies in their operations and also help the public make informed choices in their daily activities.

By enabling accurate forecasting, proactive measures can be taken to prevent unwanted events instead of simply reacting to events as they occur. For example, the forecasting capability will help NEA to better inform the public in advance of changes in air quality.

"This collaboration is the first of its kind for NEA and represents our commitment to enhance our operations to better serve the public," said Andrew Tan, CEO of NEA. "Leveraging IBM's advanced analytics capabilities, we can use data more intelligently for our operations and make sense of complex data that can be translated into useful information for the public."

The NEA hopes the collaboration will lead to new systems that can help densely populated cities like Singapore better manage their environmental challenges.

"IBM is strongly committed to helping cities future-proof, unleash the value of data and create actionable insights," said Janet Ang, managing director of IBM Singapore.

Ang added: "Our collaboration will bring researchers from IBM together with NEA to apply advanced analytics to real-life issues. In turn, this will allow NEA to develop practical and innovative solutions for sustainable growth, making Singapore a role model for smarter and sustainable urban systems."

NEA and IBM will work together to develop four sets of predictive models:

Air quality: models will be developed to forecast air quality six to 24 hours, using real-time data streams from weather and environmental sensor networks; and to backtrack air pollution incidents to identify possible sources of the pollution. With the capabilities, NEA can more quickly respond to the incident through targeted inspections at the likely sources of the pollution.

Weather forecast: Models to forecast heavy rainfall events and/or wind gust speed at a given location will enable early warning and alerts that would help the public plan their activities.


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