Last updated: 13 March 2023
Published on: 12 April 2016
5 MINS READ
Enjoy a quick round up of the interesting Smart Nation-related projects presented at the A*STAR HPC Symposium.
Designing windows that keep out noise while letting in ventilation, leveraging social intelligence for public good, and tackling the perennial problem of bus bunching – these are some of the diverse projects that researchers at A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) are working on to propel Singapore’s Smart Nation vision forward.
In his welcome address at the A*STAR HPC Symposium on 28 March, Professor Alfred Huan, Executive Director of IHPC, noted that the Singapore government is committed to the Smart Nation vision through the sharing of data.
It is putting data out in the public domain to allow ordinary citizens to play a part in developing solutions to urban challenges. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, he said.
There is more raw data available to be used on a larger scale, and this is where a concerted effort by research institutes such as IHPC can help.
IHPC is already working with many partners, both from the public and private sector, on research areas that cover a wide range of Smart Nation topics.
For example, it is collaborating with Fujitsu and the Singapore Management University through the Centre of Excellence (COE) for Urban Computing and Engineering, which was set up in October 2014. The COE leverages IHPC’s high performance computing capabilities to address the challenges faced by highly-urbanised cities.
Delivering the keynote address at the symposium, Mr Tango Matsumoto, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Officer, Fujitsu Ltd, spoke about the idea of a “Human Centric Smart Nation”.
“The whole aim of Smart Nation is to improve the lives of citizens in Singapore,” he said. “Human-centric innovation is an approach to realising this by creating solutions and services that bring together the dimensions of people, information and infrastructure. It is a means to empower people with human-centric ICT and create greater value for all citizens in a hyper-connected world.”
Applications enabled by high performance computing play an important role in these developments.
Mr Matsumoto cited examples of advanced manufacturing making use of big data analytics to improve productivity and efficiency; predictive healthcare harnessing high performance computing to detect illness at the pre-pathogenic state; and the transformation of financial processes through the use of digital currency to make retail payment more efficient and financial systems more resilient.
Solving Real World Problems With HPC
At the HPC Symposium, IHPC researchers and partners presented projects where high performance computing capabilities are being harnessed to address different urban challenges in the Singapore context.
One example from the public transport domain was the problem of unpredictable bus arrivals. Mr Loh Zhiping from SMRT Buses Ltd spoke about how this occurred even with planning because of two main challenges - on-route traffic conditions and unpredictable passenger demand along the route.
Describing this as a “systemic” problem, Dr Muhamad Azfar Ramli from IHPC’s Complex Systems Capability Group noted that bunching occurs even under perfect circumstances of uniform commuter demand and absence of traffic and speed fluctuations.
The problem is exacerbated by the complexity of bus operations, where factors such as uneven demand, traffic conditions, driving habits of bus captains and unforeseen breakdowns impact regularity and commuter wait time.
To capture this complexity, IHPC is working with SMRT Buses to develop a data-driven agent-based simulation model that will be able to capture the interactions between commuters, buses and external factors, allowing for scenario-based modelling and better optimisation of services.
In another presentation, Dr Cui Fangsen and Dr Yu Xiang from IHPC shared details about the design of windows which will be able to mitigate noise without compromising natural ventilation, in order to improve comfort in an urban living environment. The project involves the use of numerical models and simulation to evaluate the transmission of sound, in order to optimise window design.
Reimagining communication in a Smart Nation, Dr Yang Yinping from IHPC’s Social Intelligence Group spoke about “Discovering and leveraging social intelligence for public good ”.
She cited the example of tracking disease outbreak by leveraging social media platforms.
Studying a recent avian flu outbreak in China, the research found a correlation between the level of activity on the Sina Weibo social media platform and number of official reported cases of the disease.
The social media platform also provided real time surveillance on other outbreak-related information, she said.
Prof Huan added that through the symposium, IHPC hopes to initiate Smart Nation conversations within the community by providing networking opportunities, sharing successes in solving Smart Nation challenges and forming collaborations with industry partners.
“IHPC is committed to working with partners to create urban solutions to help improve the way Singaporeans work, live and play,” he said.