Two sides to ‘Virtual Singapore’


On watch: Loh showcasing Virtual Singapore – a detailed 3D model of the city-state. — Reuters

SINGAPORE: With the click of a button, Singapore’s security forces could soon use a digital version of the city-state to simulate a bomb threat at a sports stadium – and learn how to respond if there was a real attack.

Yet officials worry that “Virtual Singapore” – available soon to state agencies before an eventual public rollout – could also aid would-be terror plotters which the government says have their sights set on the wealthy island.

This is just one of many security conundrums facing developers of the 3D model that will be fed by big data and could assist in everything from urban planning to disaster mitigation in the city of 5.6 million people.

Developers and experts say the scheme is one of the most ambitious of its kind and will be watched by other cities hoping to use new technologies to improve the lives of citizens.

“This information will help our daily lives, but it could also fall in the wrong hands,” said George Loh, director of programmes at the National Research Foundation, a department in the Prime Minister’s Office which has been leading the project’s development for over three years.

“We need to think about that. We need to be two or three steps ahead,” Loh said.

He said some officials considered the system “too dangerous” because militants, for example, may try to access details like the view from buildings to plan sniper attacks.

“But if it is not accurate enough, nobody will use the platform.”

Cybersecurity was also a concern after the country suffered its biggest data breach this year in which 1.5 million people including the prime minister had information stolen. — Reuters

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