First-of-its-kind lab in Singapore to better chart the world's seas and oceans


The Innovation and Technology Lab's mission is to generate tools and data that can make maritime navigation safer and help better protect the marine environment. - ST

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): A laboratory has been set up here to enable international collaboration on technologies that can more accurately map the world's seas and oceans - the first such facility in the world.

The Innovation and Technology Lab is housed at PSA Vista near Pasir Panjang Terminal, and is a collaboration between Singapore and the 95-member International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO).

Its mission is to generate tools and data that can make maritime navigation safer and help people better protect the marine environment.

It should also provide a dedicated space to smoothen the transfer of new ideas into practice, a key element that has been missing, said IHO secretary-general Mathias Jonas.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat, who launched the lab on Tuesday (Oct 26), said he is looking forward to various stakeholders coming together to undertake innovative projects.

In time, they should be able to outline new global standards for the industry and test new solutions and technologies in a field where no single country can make much headway alone, he added.

"Member states can leverage on Singapore's ecosystem of shipping companies, port operators, maritime research institutes and centres of excellence to form multidisciplinary teams with different expertise," Chee said.

As one of the busiest waterways in the world, and with an advanced vessel traffic information that can handle more than 10,000 vessels, Singapore will also provide the IHO lab with real-world and challenging scenarios so it can test its innovations rigorously, said Chee.

Singapore is making a $1.1 million in-kind contribution to fund the IHO lab over the first five years of its operations, and is also likely to provide seed funding for IHO lab-initiated projects.

Hydrography is the science of surveying and charting the depths of the sea, the shape of the seabed, and tides and currents.

Better knowledge of these can contribute to efforts as wide-ranging as coastal protection, marine resource management, and environmental impact mitigation, although it was used mostly for navigational purposes in the past.

The IHO lab was proposed by Singapore and approved by IHO member states at the second IHO assembly in November last year.

Set up in 1921, the IHO seeks to increase the world's collective knowledge of oceans, seas and navigable waters by getting its member nations to come together to survey and chart them.

It celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

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