Gaw Seng Suan
Director, Land Data Division,
Singapore Land Authority
Q. Kindly highlight the functional areas of Land Data Division?
A. As a division, Land Data Division (LDD) is quite new in Singapore Land Authority (SLA); it came into being in April last year. While establishing LDD, we enlarged the scope of responsibilities of the former Land Resource Projects Division by adding the Data Planning and Management function to the existing Mapping and Land Records functions. Mapping and Land Records captures spatial data to support internal land operations needs and State land/building ownership data for reporting of State reserves.
In creating LDD, we wanted one division in SLA that could help to integrate all the different data residing in the many silo database systems within the different SLA departments into a logical whole. We wanted to be able to pull data from the different databases and put it together seamlessly and efficiently to generate the information needed for operations, planning, decision making, policy formulation, etc.We also wanted the division to be responsible for putting in place a good data governance framework for providingavailability, usability, integrity and security of data within SLA. In short, the function of LDD is to ensure that data is appropriately captured so as to be able to generate quality information.
SLA also manages the Land Data Hub (LDH) of Singapore that stores spatial information from various agencies for sharing the same among different government agencies. LDD is one of the main contributors to the LDH as it shares information on Land and Building Ownership with the Hub.
Q. How does Land Data Hub function? How close is it to an NSDI?
A. LDH is a collaborative national land data sharing programme. It is a one-stop centre for digitised land data, operating successfully since 1989. These digitised land data include data on buildings, roads, utilities networks, urban planning, addresses, street directory and topographical maps. It also has a system called Land Information Network (LandNet) which rides on high speed government intranet and facilitates online data sharing.
LDH is managed by a Steering Committee (LDH SC) comprising Senior Management representatives from various data provider agencies.
The LDH SC is chaired by CEO of SLA. The committee provides overall leadership and guidance to the programme. As far as LDH’s likeness to NSDI is concerned, LDH has many elements necessary for NSDI. However, the primary objective of LDH is to support current operations at various land related gencies. NSDI on the other hand is more holisitc.
Q. How important is NSDI for Singapore?
A. NSDI is vital for Singapore. It is something we need to evaluate. Since we already have LDH, it may be relatively easy to transform it to an NSDI using the same platform rather than starting from scratch. One of the prerequisites of NSDI is a Common Geodetic Framework.
In Singapore, we were fortunate to have a Common Geodetic Framework in place; since 1948 everybody in Singapore used Cassini projection with the coordinate framework prescribed by the Survey Department of SLA.
Five years back we converted the system into a modern GPS friendly coordinate system called SVY 21, which is based on Transverse Mercator Projection System. We carried out a nation-wide exercise of converting all the layers into the new SVY 21 system. SLA led that project and in 2004 we achieved a level where all information from multiple quarters fit into this established standard. From the GIS data format angle, LDH has already established certain standards. We understand that different agencies due to the differing needs of their applications may have different types of GIS data. We ask agencies to give us data in any form they have; we transform that into an open Oracle Spatial format. Agencies can take back the data from the repository in any industry standard format.
Q. Can you provide us more details on the Oracle GRID project.
A. The Oracle’s Database GRID technology that we have has many benefits. In the whole of Asia Pacific, we are the first to use grid technology because we saw its potential very early. LDH is growing as more and more agencies continue to contribute their data.
Grid technology helps to expand the scale of data sharing application incrementally as new agencies and new data sets are added.
The GRID infrastructure also provides a fool-proof environment, thereby providing high system availability and better control over the operations.
Q. How are the components of data infrastructure – LDH, LandNet and Integrated Land Information System (INLIS) related?
A. LandNet is the system that helps in LDH’s operations, i.e., it is actually a platform where data sharing takes place. We have our satellite servers installed at various agencies, which help to import agencies’ data and make subsequent changes to it automatically through scheduled processes. Of the data that come to the central respository, we filter information that is useful for public consumption.
Such information are then packaged as services and made available to public through INLIS website (www.inlis.gov.sg), which is a one stop land information portal for public, operating since 1998. For example, public can search for Property Title info which provides details about owners, price at which the property was transacted, legal encumbrance of the searched property etc. We partner with other government agencies to provide these services to public. We will be adding many more similar services in future.
Going one step ahead, we have plans to make LandNet a consultation platform for the government agencies. The concerned agencies can carry out online consultations in the wake of a development planned for a piece of land. For example, if a development authority is converting a food court into a shopping mall, the plan can be put online and feedback from the affected agencies can be sought.
Q. Brief us on the LandNet Web Services.
A. The LandNet web services are for consumption of government agencies. If an agency has a website for their functions and they want their site to be enabled with a mapping component, they do not need to buy their own GIS infrastructure. They can just log onto this web services, which will allow them to choose which layer they want to see and what tools they needed to browse and query the maps.