NParks unveils smart roadmap to improve efficiency in tree management and nature conservation efforts
File photo of the Botanic Gardens in Singapore. (AFP/Roslan Rahman)
SINGAPORE: The National Parks Board (NParks) will progressively tap on more technologies to improve its operational efficiency and processes over the next three years.Under its digitalisation masterplan, which was unveiled at the International Federation of Landscape Architects World Congress (IFLA) on Wednesday (Jul 18), NParks said it will focus on leveraging technologies to improve three main areas – arboriculture, horticulture and nature conservation and biodiversity management.
To improve the inspection and management of the 2 million trees under its purview, the agency is currently piloting an electronic sensor that can detect early signs of structural instability in trees. This could help identify potential tree failures earlier so that measures can be taken.To allow more timely interventions, the agency is also currently working with various researchers to make use of data models and environmental sensor data for tree analytics. One such project is a model that will allow NParks to study the impact of environmental conditions, such as wind on a tree's stability. Called the Finite Element Model, it can estimate how force is needed to break or uproot the tree. This will provide arborists with an additional tool to determine maintenance needs of a tree.
To improve its efficiency in nursery management processes, NParks is piloting a smart irrigation system that can automatically trigger the watering of plants during dry weather conditions. It is also testing an RFID inventory system to consolidate information such as species name and location on all plants in its nurseries. This will allow NParks to track how the plants have been distributed more efficiently.
Finally, to coordinate and strengthen nature conservation efforts, NParks is currently developing a prototype system that can detect forest fires and automatically activate a drone to provide real-time information of a fire. Called the Forest Fire Detection System, digital cameras will be installed at various locations to provide continuous monitoring of Singapore's nature reserves. At the same time, statistical modelling techniques are also being used to better understand ecosystems. This includes hydrology modelling which will be used to study the impact of changing climate conditions on the Nee Soon Swamp Forest as well as an agent-based modelling to determine marine organism movements in coastal waters.