HDB Embarks on $5.3 Million Research Collaboration to Enhance Estate Services Through Smart Sensing and Analytics
The Housing & Development Board (HDB), in collaboration with Imperial College London (ICL) and A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to embark on a $5.3 million research programme to study how smart sensing and analytics can enhance services within housing estates. The collaboration, inked at the Urban Sustainability R&D Congress today, is part of HDB’s efforts to leverage smart technologies for developing liveable and sustainable homes of the future.
2 Spanning four years, the research programme will study how sensors and sensor networks can be enhanced to make data collection more efficient and reliable for the monitoring and analysis of estate-level services such as lifts, water pumps, and lighting.
3 The research programme is part of HDB’s Smart HDB Town Framework which maps out how HDB will create liveable, efficient, sustainable and safe towns for residents. Specifically, the collaboration comes under the Smart Estate domain, where HDB will leverage smart technologies to collect and analyse data, so as to better understand the usage patterns of common services, optimise maintenance with minimal disruption in services and create innovative solutions to provide a more pleasant living environment. Please refer to Annex A for more information on the Smart HDB Town Framework.
4 Dr Cheong Koon Hean, Chief Executive Officer of HDB, said “Estate services form the backbone of any residential town. Their performance directly impacts the quality of living of its residents. The ability to monitor the health of these services in real-time can greatly change the way estates are maintained. With data collected from a strong network of sensors and analytic tools, we can carry out analytics more efficiently and accurately. Common services in HDB estates can then be better optimised, maintained and managed. The end result is quality living for our residents.”
5 To enhance the performance and reliability of key Mechanical and Electrical services in housing estates, the research programme will look into three specific areas. More details are as follows:
To Develop New Smart Sensors and Improve Design, Operation and Maintenance of Sensor Networks
It is important that data collection methods are efficient and reliable. Part of the collaboration will involve the development of new sensors that come with computing capabilities, so that they can carry out basic data processing at the point of collection, in addition to their basic function of signal transmission.
For example, instead of simply transmitting data back to HDB's Data Analytics Centre in one-second intervals, when such fine-grained data may not be useful or meaningful for analysis, the new sensors could have the capability to aggregate and compute large chunks of data collected into 15-minute intervals, so that analysts can examine data patterns more efficiently and accurately. Furthermore, transmitting purely processed data would help to reduce the bandwidth required and make the transmission process more sustainable over the long term.
In addition, the team will study how sensors can be better deployed for more effective monitoring of estate services. For example, as data transmission may be blocked by existing tall structures, the research programme will study how sensors can be better located in urban environments, so that sufficient amounts of data may be smoothly transmitted and collected for more accurate data analysis.
6 Under the Smart HDB Town Framework, HDB had initially focused on four domains - Smart Planning, Smart Environment, Smart Estate and Smart Living. As a further refinement, HDB will be including a fifth domain, to enable Smart Communities. Data collected on demographics, social trends, and lifestyle preferences, can be harnessed to better understand the needs and preferences of residents. Suitable smart applications can be developed to bring them closer together and to empower residents to take greater ownership of their community. It will also create future communities that are more inclusive and resilient.
7 For example, through gamification (the process of turning an activity or task into a game or something that resembles a game), applications could be developed to promote community bonding, with an element of fun. The application could allow residents to display a list of items that they require assistance with (i.e. carpooling, buying of groceries, house cleaning etc.). Neighbours could then respond to these requests and “earn credit” for help rendered and exchange the credits for discounted goods and services at neighbourhood shops etc. Further details about this new domain under the Smart HDB Town Framework will be provided when ready.
8 Separately, HDB was conferred two awards at the Minister for National Development Research and Development Awards. The Awards recognise the important role that research and development plays in creating an endearing home and a distinctive global city. The winning projects are:
9 In all, HDB has been conferred six awards since the commencement of the Minister for National Development R&D Awards in 2011. More details on the various awards can be found in Annex B.