Singapore's NEA Collaborates with IBM to improve Environmental Services related to Air, Weather And Public Health [Press Releases]

July 4, 2012 by  
Filed under News

July 3, 2012, SINGAPORE – The National Environment Agency (NEA) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a joint three-year research collaboration and signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) where IBM researchers will work with NEA to develop 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 will enable researchers from NEA and IBM’s mathematical experts harness the wide capabilities of advanced analytics which includes capturing data in real time and turning this unstructured information into intelligence, or even predictive insight that facilitates smarter decisions. 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.

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.

“This collaboration is the first of its kind for NEA and represents our commitment to enhance our operations to better serve the public. By leveraging on 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,” said Mr Andrew Tan, Chief Executive Officer of the NEA. “We hope that the collaboration will lead to new systems that can help highly compact and dense cities like Singapore better manage their environmental challenges. Such solutions will not only be relevant to Singapore but other cities around the world.”

“IBM is strongly committed to helping cities future-proof, unleash the value of data and create actionable insights. Today, we are another step closer to making Singapore an international knowledge hub for sustainable development solutions – a key goal in the nation’s Sustainable Development Blueprint,” said Ms Janet Ang, Managing Director of IBM Singapore. “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.”

Specifically, NEA and IBM will co-develop four sets of predictive models in key environmental domains in Singapore:

• Air quality – Where models will be developed to forecast air quality six to 24 hours in advance on an operational basis, using real-time data streams from weather and environmental sensor networks; and to backtrack air pollution incidents to identify possible sources of the pollution. By tracing and tracking the pollution source rapidly, it allows for faster response by NEA officers to deal with the incident through targeted inspections at the likely sources of the pollution.

• Weather forecast – Where models will be developed to forecast heavy rainfall events and/or wind gust speed at a given location. This allows early warning and alerts on such events that would help the public to plan their activities.

• Dengue prediction – Where models will be developed to help predict outbreaks and to conduct scenario analysis to evaluate the efficacy of intervention policies. By predicting areas of high dengue risks and evaluating proposed prevention policies and measures, it would help enhance the effectiveness of the dengue control programme.

• Food poisoning – Where models will be developed for early event detection of food poisoning incidents by harnessing social media analytics to complement our existing inspection regime, allowing for more targeted and timely inspections based on public feedback on social media platforms.

“NEA is developing new ways to enhance its effectiveness and responsiveness as an agency. This collaboration with IBM is an example of a joint research collaboration that brings mutual benefits by harnessing NEA’s operational expertise and environmental data and IBM’s strength in advanced analytics. This will allow us to better anticipate and respond to any environmental challenges,” said Mr Satish Appoo, Director, Strategic Development & Transformation Office of the National Environment Agency. “With IBM’s strong research capabilities and technologies, NEA can definitely benefit from this collaboration and analyze unforeseen situations better.”

“At IBM Research it is important to be able to test solutions in real-world settings, outside the walls of a traditional laboratory,” said Dr Jayant R. Kalagnanam, Research Director of IBM Research Collaboratory – Singapore. “This collaboration will allow us to collaborate with NEA’s subject matter experts in key environmental fields, access to NEA’s data and the ability to test-bed and validate innovative solutions.”

Through the collaboration, NEA and IBM also seek to engage with other public agencies and research ecosystem – to add to the vibrancy of the research community that is engaged in creating innovative leading-edge solutions ready to be tested and deployed, testing them locally, and deploying them worldwide.

Source: NEA

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