Visions For The Future

This urban planner uses the latest technology to let people see into the future – and help shape it together.
Always on the lookout for how technology can improve life, new father Mr Eugene Lau has also imagined using the Internet of Things to help him take care of his baby daughter.

Eugene Lau
Deputy Director (Urban Design Technology)
Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)
ExCEL Innovation Champion

In 2017, visitors to the Jurong Lake District exhibition could do more than just read panels or gaze at physical models of the proposed buildings and plans for Singapore’s upcoming Western Business District.

They were able to feel right at the scene. Thanks to the use of virtual reality goggles, an augmented reality app and 3-D digital models, they could immerse themselves in the yet-to-be-constructed district.

And Mr Eugene Lau, 34, had a key role in making this happen. As Deputy Director (Urban Design Technology) at the URA, Mr Lau had pushed for and embarked on projects that tap technology to streamline urban design and planning workflows.

For example, his team developed a web portal that gives architects and planners easy access to the URA’s inventory of 3-D models. Developing the 3-D Urban Planner software also enabled quick and accurate simulations of multiple development scenarios for the future Jurong Lake District, which were then used to guide the master plan.

Innovation should be done for a cause and not for applause.

The benefits of using virtual technology extended to public interaction and engagement. Augmented reality technology was used to present additional layers of information on physical wooden models. It also helped to garner feedback from the ground and end-users, for instance, on how to make paths safer for pedestrians walking next to a cycling lane, using virtual cyclists passing by.

As for what motivates him, Mr Lau says: “Innovation should be done for a cause and not for applause. It’s pretty innate in me to try out new gadgets and apps in order to use my time more efficiently. It’s my motto in personal life brought to work – if a task can be completed in half the time required, I can spend more time with my family and baby daughter.”

This story is part of a Public Service Week series called At the Heart of Transformation, celebrating public officers whose sense of purpose push them to always improve the way they work.

Read more in this series:

    Jun 4, 2018
    Alvan Yap
    Brenda Lim
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