A Sustainable Approach to Improve Water Supply for Underprivileged Communities


A Case Study on Myaungmya Township, Myanmar


Access to clean water remains a challenge for many rural communities. In Myanmar, one-third of rural homes lack improved water supplies, which is linked to poverty, lower health, and higher mortality. While there are efforts to develop adequate water infrastructure, some challenges remain in the search for low-cost sustainable solutions catered to the livelihood of the rural communities.

For one, rural water infrastructure projects can often lack consultancy input throughout its life-cycle due to financial constraints. There is a lack of incentive for innovation due to the high cost of failure, which results in ineffective solutions being perpetuated, causing inefficient usage of funding and resources. While certain solutions do work in the context of the rural landscape, it is also essential to continue the search for more effective and low-cost solution, in order to maximise the use of their limited resources to benefit a larger community.

Secondly, while modern water technology is effective in improving water access in urban cities, it cannot be simply transferred to the rural landscape without serious consideration of its appropriateness. Rural settlements generally consist of smaller and remote villages, where economical decentralised solutions are sought after as compared to large infrastructure projects that can be more financially feasible and/or accommodate technologically savvy solutions due to economies of scale. Therefore, consultancy service could be essential to achieve site specific applications.

Finally, local water supply is also often diversified due to distinct dry-wet season variations. Hence, water resource assessment is a crucial part of the planning process to determine the amount of water hydrologically available, supported by modern computational tools. Lastly, capacity building is critical for such community work to improve water resiliency. Proper planning and consultancy efforts would ensure multiple dimensions are adequately addressed to meet the needs of the local community.

Here, Surbana Jurong was engaged to provide consultancy service by an international non-profit organisation that is committed to enabling sustainable access to clean water and sanitation for Asia’s rural poor. In this case study, Surbana Jurong is tasked to provide engineering services for increasing water supply across 9 villages in Myaungmya Township in the Ayeyarwady region. The villages are scattered across the Myaungmya Township in largely remote rural settings, and rely on a variety of water sources throughout the years. Rainwater harvesting is adopted by most of the villages, and traditional methods to increase the water supply generally involved the construction of new earthen rainwater harvesting ponds and water storage tanks, or the expansion of existing ponds. Here, Surbana Jurong seeks to enhance the traditional solutions through conducting detailed site studies and designing improved rainwater harvesting and storage infrastructure that will be piloted in these locations.

The team investigated two main approaches to meet the required water increment targets:

  1. Water Loss Reduction: Reducing the main sources of water loss (evaporation/seepage)
  2. Water Volume Increment: Increasing the volume of water collected through increasing the rainfall catchment area of the pond)

To gain a deeper appreciation of each location’s site context, site specific data (meteorological data, topographical data, water quality test results, village interviews and material availability) was collected. A Water Quality Index is proposed to develop an objective baseline to compare the water quality across different water sources and serve as an effective communication tool to the stakeholders. Computational tools such as the Stormwater Management Model and Computational Fluid Dynamics were utilised by the team to analyse the water storage depletion and wind flow pattern upon implementation of various solutions. Finally, a set of low-cost and innovative solutions was developed for potential trial and implementation in the villages. A decision tree is used for initial solution selection, and lifecycle analysis is further adopted to select the most cost efficient solutions over a specified design lifecycle. The similar methodology can be developed for any regions to suit the water target requirements.

1. Main Approaches to Increasing Rainwater Harvesting Water Supply

1.1      Approach 1 – Water Loss Reduction

To look at water loss reduction for the ponds, establishing a baseline of the main sources of water loss is essential for the design. Here, 2 main sources of water loss are critical:

  1. Traditional design for rainwater harvesting pond are open air for direct collection of rainwater – significant water evaporation loss during the dry season where the sun is most intense.
  2. The existing ponds are also simple dug out ponds with a layer of compacted soil and no waterproof linings – seepage loss could be a concern for such ponds.

Hence, the baseline of the two main sources of water loss (Evaporation and Seepage) are explored in greater detail based on site specific data (e.g. wind, rainfall, evaporation).

1.1.1  Analysis of Evaporation Loss

Figure 1: Myaungmya water storage depletion result with evaporation reduction

Evaporation is the main cause of water loss ranging from 92 mm to 163 mm on a monthly basis, where it accounts for 30-40% of the total water loss during the dry season, over a period of six months. To determine the critical value for evaporation loss reduction, a water storage and depletion modelling is developed based on a standard pond design. The result of the depletion is plotted in Figure 1. With no evaporation reduction measures, the storage pond will be depleted by early April, in line with village observation. A minimum of 25% evaporation rate reduction with the water supply could extend the water source for another 15 days, and a 50% reduction in evaporation rate could extend the water supply for 34 days close to near the end of the dry season.

Figure 1: Myaungmya water storage depletion result with evaporation reductionWith a baseline of the evaporation rate established, solutions that can potentially reduce the evaporation rate is further explored. Two main sources of evaporation are assessed:

  1. Wind evaporation (Vapor pressure at water surface)
  2. Solar evaporation (Latent heat of water)  Solutions Targeting Evaporation Loss – CFD Study for Active and Passive Wind Reduction

Large winds will accelerate water evaporation as the wind carries away the water molecules, lowering air humidity which allows for more water to evaporate. Hence, methods that can block and reduce the wind velocities are tested. A Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling – i.e. numerical simulation to solve fluid (in this case, air) flow is performed to assess the impact of a change in the shape, orientation, fencing location on the wind velocities to arrive at a recommended solution.

Wind Records collected from the Myanmar Department of Meteorological & Hydrology (DMH), found the most common wind direction derives from the West, Northwest and Northeast. The average wind velocity lies around 2mph (0.9m/s), a low value which suggest that wind evaporation is not a significant concern for the township. The maximum wind speed goes up to 5 – 6 mph (~2m/s) during the dry season, and a CFD study is developed based on these parameters of the worst-case condition.

Figure 2 shows some results of the CFD cases. Upon a curious challenge by the client on the effect of orientation, without the CFD model, the team was unable to intuitively identify that the natural embankment (which serves as a passive wind shield) is not able shield the west wind at an angle. This was an important finding that led to a further modelling on various parameters to arrive at a unified guideline for pond siting.

Figure 2: CFD model results
Figure 3: Scheme of optimal storage and fence orientation for the Myaungmya Township

Although the CFD study provides a recommended option, the application for each village has to be assessed independently. For existing ponds following a fixed land plot, it is not ideal to change the orientation of the pond and make full use of the land plot provided for pond improvement works to gain the maximum amount of water from the given plot. The orientation guideline is best suited for new ponds due to flexibility in siting and orientating the pond before construction.  Solutions Targeting Evaporation Loss – Solar Evaporation Reduction

Low-cost measures primarily targeting at reducing solar evaporation are considered. Three methods of evaporation reduction – Suspended Cover, Floating Cover and Chemical Monolayers, are considered, with a comparison as shown in Table 1. For the local context of the Myaungmya Township, it is most recommended to provide a Suspended Shade Cover for evaporation reduction, due to the high cost-effectiveness in the long term. The solution is inexpensive to build and maintain. Although the trade-off involves the required labour to erect and remove the shade cover every season, it is likely a more acceptable solution for the locals as it only adds external structures for the pond, instead of impacting the water directly.

Table 1: Comparison of Solar Shield Options

1.1.2  Analysis of Seepage Loss

Seepage loss occurs when water is lost vertically through the bottom of the pond, horizontally through the dikes/ embankment by infiltration, or backflowing through the drainage system of the pond. For a well-built pond, vertical seepage is likely of greater concern and will depend on the soil texture and on the soil structure of the pond bottom (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Scheme of Seepage Loss through the Ponds (image source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations)

Based on field observation of the type of soil in the current villages, the common soil type used for the ponds are close to the “Loamy clay” or “Clay” type soil with lower seepage. However, even with these better soil type, there could still be significant losses amounting to about 30% of the total water loss (assuming 2.6mm/day for loamy clay) if no seepage control measures are implemented.

Table 2: Seepage Loss of Various Soil Types (image source: FAO)

To address the seepage concern for new and existing ponds dug directly into the soil, two main solutions are considered involving a natural clay liner and a synthetic geo-liner.

1.2 Approach 2 – Water Volume Increment

The second approach to maximising rainwater harvesting is to increase the catchment area, as the volume of rainwater collected is a function of the rainfall depth and the catchment area (Figure 5). Developing a rainwater drainage system to collect the surface runoff is not advisable due to the large possibility of collecting pesticides and dirt/silt contaminated rainwater. Hence, increasing the catchment surface area that collects direct rainfall would be the recommended approach for enhancement. This minimises the potential ground contamination to maintain the water quality.

Figure 5: Schematic of Rainfall Catchment Increase on Water Volume Collected

1.2.1  Solution Targeting Catchment Area Increment

For large and clustered communities where a shared communal pond can be implemented as an accessible and cost-effective source of water supply, a predominant method of increasing the rainwater catchment area involves shifting the existing pond embankments back or expanding the entire pond to increase both the pond’s catchment area and storage capacity (Figure 6). An alternative method would be to build an artificial “catchment” outside of the pond area using certain types of sheet or scaffolding structure to channel rainfall into the pond. A tailored design would have to be developed for individual villages based on their original pond size to meet the water target requirements.

Figure 6: Schematic of Pond Expansion

However, it is to be noted that the increase in catchment area and storage area with pond expansion is accompanied by a corresponding increase in the evaporation rate and seepage loss. The pond volume increment should exceed the increase in losses over the dry season in order to secure additional water supply. One village is shown as an example where a 15% pond area expansion from the original pond area can increase the water collected to meet the Client’s requirement and extend the water supply by 20 days, whilst accounting for the seepage and evaporation loss increment (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Water Supply Modelling for Pond Expansion

For scattered community clusters where constructing a communal water storage facility is not optimal (lack of available land and accessibility), individual household rooftop rainwater harvesting is designed to improve their access to clean water supply (schematic as shown in Figure 8). Although direct rainfall collection is preferred, the surface area of the individual storage tanks units is too small to collect a substantial volume of rain (up to a maximum of 3m2, compared to a typical pond size of 900m2) and provisioning an excessively large tank would not be feasible in terms of potability and maintenance at the household level. The rooftop adds a larger ‘rainfall catchment area’ where the rainwater that falls on the roofs would be drained into the storage tank via a series of roof gutters and downpipes, thus reducing the time taken for the tanks to be filled up. This would be especially useful towards the end of the wet season where rainfall intensity reduces significantly, and a larger catchment area would maximise rainwater collection.

Figure 8: Schematic of Household Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting

1.2.2  Additional Solutions for Unique Site Conditions

The analysis and development of solutions are largely catered to improving new and existing rainwater storage ponds. However, the construction or expansion of a pond may not be suitable for all villages due to constraints in site conditions. Other potential water storage facilities are also explored, such as a storage tank design made of ferro-cement or Reinforced Concrete (RC) as potential materials to address issues of unfavourable site conditions (e.g. irregular land plots, sloping land, and permeable soil) as they can be cast into the required shapes and designed to be structurally strong through providing proper strutting and intermediate supports.

2. Water Quality Index for Effective Communication

Lastly, to encourage more active water quality monitoring, we have proposed the use of a Water Quality Index to establish a baseline and generate greater awareness of the state of the water sources.

The National Sanitation Foundation Water Quality Index (NSFWQI)[1] is an international standard of water quality assessment based on a standard 9 water quality parameters supported by rigorous research globally. The aim of WQI is to give a single value to water quality of a source, resulting in easy interpretation of water quality monitoring data. It enables a fair and objective comparison of water quality between multiple sampling sites and time, and helps to facilitate communication with lay person like local residents.

Based on the WQI results, we would be able to assign an index value for the water quality of specific water source, which generally corresponds to the actual site conditions as shown in Figure 10.

  1. Generally, the creeks and channels have a worse water quality (lower WQI value) than other sources due to higher turbidity, total solids concentration, BOD and fecal coliform in the water sample. Exposed murky waters is observed, possibly due to rural practises of discharging their waste directly into the creeks.
  1. Rainwater harvesting sources have better water quality, with intermediate levels of turbidity, total solids and BOD concentration. Some ponds are of exception possibly due to low protection and soil silting, and this can serve as an educational example to show the importance of proper maintenance of the pond.
  2. Household-level rainwater harvesting, (i.e. collecting rainwater in ceramic or plastic pots for individual households use), have best water quality (excellent WQI values) , and is represented with a lower turbidity, BOD and coliform levels in the water. These waters are generally well-protected from contamination (such as from animal feces, soil silting).

As the WQI results can be easily interpreted by the local residents, this can be an effective channel to educate the villagers of the benefits of using rainwater harvesting systems (low-cost and better water quality) of increasing the water supply, and on the protection of their water systems from contamination.

[1] For more information on the WQI, please refer to:

Mr. Brian Oram, P. Monitoring the Quality of Surface Waters (WQI Calculator). Retrieved from Water Research Center.

Mirzaei, Mojgan & Mahini, & Solgi, Eisa. (2016). Evaluation of surface water quality using NSFWQI index and pollution risk assessment using WRASTIC index in 2015.. Arch Hyg Sci. 5. 264-277.

Figure 9: Site photos of water source corresponding to each WQI range

3. Solution Selection Decision Matrix

The above study for water depletion and evaporation control brings the team to 5 potential solutions in combination of the various study that has been developed:

  1. Solar Shield (Evaporation)
  2. Pond Expansion (Catchment area and storage capacity increase)
  3. Structural scaffolding (Catchment area increase)
  4. Water Storage tanks – Reinforced concrete or ferro-cement tank (Unique site conditions)
  5. Geo-liner (Seepage)

These 5 solutions are considered in tandem with the original solutions of expanding the pond and constructing new pond in each village.

Hence, Surbana Jurong has also developed a decision tree qualifying the various steps in the recommendation of the final solution for each village.

Various considerations are assessed:

  1. If the village do not own an existing rainwater harvesting facility for rehabilitation, provisioning an entirely new water storage such as new earth pond or new tank facilities would immediately be the priority solution.
  2. If the pond is already of a significant size equal or greater than the standard recommended pond design (which further expansion could lead to maintenance and operational difficulties), other solutions to meet the water target should also be considered such as implementing a solar shield to reduce evaporation, or external scaffolding to increase the catchment area.
  3. If there are major conflicting land issues in expanding the pond or building a new water storage facility, solutions which require the least amount of land is of greater priority, such as constructing a concrete tank of customised dimensions which takes up lesser space.
  4. Seepage loss and saltwater considerations should be assessed for all new and existing earth ponds by assessing the soil conditions and the water quality of the pond during the dry season. A pond liner should be provided during rehabilitation and construction to reduce the seepage and salinity in the pond to maintain a good water volume and quality.

These considerations are summarised within a decision tree (Figure 10) to allow for a quick review of the various considerations to select the best course solution in meeting the required water target.

Figure 10: Decision tree for selection of the best solution for each village to meet the water target

The designs of the solution are further assessed based on the lifecycle cost – i.e. total cost of ownership over the lifetime of an asset. The communal solutions are evaluated based on a 20 years lifecycle, while the household solutions are calculated based on a 10-year lifecycle, in consideration of the new technologies in the future that may replace the current structures. This allows the team to filter the material or designs that may not be sustainable within the solution’s designated lifecycle. For instance, for soil bank protection, although Gunny rolls are considered one of the least expensive material in terms of the upfront cost, it requires to be replaced every year and would potentially lead to a higher lifecycle cost over 20 years compared to the alternative, higher capital options such as the Geo-synthetic Clay Liner that could last 20 years without replacement.

Finally, the potential for developed solutions to be scaled and replicated by local stakeholders would be an important determining factor. This involves if the material is available locally (e.g. for frame structures, bamboo or timber is used depending on which material are available locally in the village), and the ease of local design, construction and maintenance.

The selection methodology illustrated is applicable not only for the 9 villages in the Myaungmya Township, but also for future implementation where the client and the government can decide on the best course of action to improve the water supply in other villages.

4. Conclusion

Technical inputs of the Surbana Jurong team allows for adequate selection and optimised design of various low-cost solutions for the villages, whilst ensuring efficient water resource planning.

Two main approaches (Water Savings and Water Volume Increment) are explored to develop potential low-cost solution to increase the water supply, which value-adds to the existing solution of the villages.

For water savings, methods to reduce evaporation and seepage loss are developed. The wind CFD study provide a versatile guideline for the optimal placement of the pond and can be easily adapted to other areas based on the site-specific meteorological data, while the evaluation of various options of solar shield found suspended shield cover as the most economical solution for the township with high effectiveness and locally available materials. For seepage loss reduction, a geo-liner is recommended to address seepage and soil intrusion issues which can be provisioned regardless of the soil condition.

For water volume increment, methods to increase the direct rainwater collection is explored such as pond expansion and structural scaffolding to achieve tailored solution for each individual village. Water supply modelling is used to model the water supply pattern in the pond based on local rainfall, evaporation and seepage information, which enables the team to predict the effectiveness of various solutions during the conceptual stage.

The water quality index ensures a fair and objective comparison across different water sources and for effective stakeholders communication.

A decision tree is developed by the SJ team which qualifies the various site constraints in the final solution selection. Lifecycle cost analysis is used to select the most cost-efficient designs and materials over the specified duration of service, and the ease of replication or scaling up of the design is also assessed before the final solution is selected f each village.

The team believes that this research approach can be scaled up and conducted across various environments with differing weather conditions and geographies, to assess and inform the design of cost-efficient water supply solutions for the targeted communities.


Contributed By:

Chan Hui Ling, Engineer, Sustainability and Resiliency Office, Surbana Jurong Consultants Pte Ltd

Trivin Chua Meng Guan, Executive Project Manager / Project Team Lead, Surbana International Consultants Myanmar Co Ltd

Swe Thet Maung, Principal Engineer (Infrastructure & Geotechnical Team Lead), Surbana International Consultants Myanmar Co Ltd 

Victor Sim Siang Tze, Head of Resiliency, Sustainability and Resiliency Office, Surbana Jurong Consultants Pte Ltd

Ravelth Belicena, Senior HR and Admin Associate / Deputy Project Team Lead, Surbana International Consultants Myanmar Co Ltd

Cracking The Code To Smart Industrial Parks

Contributed By:

Energy and Industrial Division, Surbana Jurong Infrastructure

Wang Zhenglin, Manager

Cynthia Tan, Manager

Tara Tang, Assistant Manager

Dennis Tan, Director, Strategic Projects


The rise of the digital economy has prompted countries to review their policies and infrastructure; and has also increased the pressure on companies across all sectors to embrace technologies as well as for workers to learn new capabilities. The adoption of digitalization in the manufacturing sector has further accelerated due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. With technology taking over manual tasks in a more economical and productive manner, many workers performing these roles will find their jobs displaced. The challenge would also be to upgrade the workforce to adopt technology to enhance their skillsets. For the built environment, industrial park developers and policy makers need to adapt their strategy and modus operandi to align themselves with the digital economy. Smart and eco-sustainable industrial parks that can provide a cost-effective, efficient and resilient production space for large pools of local workers can and must become a reality.

Manufacturing as a Key Engine of Economic Growth

Industrial parks can become key drivers of economic activities for developed and developing countries. One distinction of industrial parks over standalone manufacturing facilities is the opportunity for the industrial park developer to curate a mix of like-minded and synergistic industrial clusters, co-located with complementary services and facilities on site to create a true ecosystem; and Jurong Island Chemicals Hub is one such example. Companies on the island enjoy production synergies and efficiencies on the proximity of their value chain and integrated infrastructure such as common pipeline corridors.

Figure 1 Jurong Island Chemicals Hub – Surbana Jurong was involved in the reclamation process to combine 7 islands into one land mass, to form Singapore’s energy and chemicals industry cornerstone with over S$50 billion worth of investments. Singapore is today one of the world’s top exporters of refined oil products, despite having no natural oil or gas resources and limited land.

Starting off on The Right Foot with a Good Development Plan

Industrial park developers are responsible for creating a safe and secure environment for its clients with reliable essential services and infrastructure (such as logistics) so that companies can focus on their core manufacturing activities. Beyond the operational fundamentals, world-class park developers will go one step further to build an estate that supports or champions the causes of companies, such as carbon footprint reduction or circularity in its ecosystem.

This is achieved through development planning which provides an end-to-end development framework for the building of the industrial park and serves as a blueprint for future expansions. The process begins with identifying the value proposition and concept of the industrial park as well as a comprehensive study of the physical and operating environment. The factors which are assessed include the local regulations, surrounding infrastructure and availability of raw materials amongst other things.

Figure 2 Surbana Jurong’s proprietary approach towards development planning for industrial and petrochemical parks

The COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the necessity to conduct development planning to build a pandemic-resilient industrial park. Realistically, development planning on its own will not be able to eradicate the effects of an outbreak but when done properly upfront – it can certainly help park operators to better control the situation. Strategic land planning considerations can help industrial park developers segregate different communities and reduce crowding. These include implementing controlled access to the estate, separate entry and exit points for different zones, adequate safety buffers between facilities, as well as accessibility to essential services and amenities. Practising flexible land planning, by strategically setting aside plots of land for temporary uses such as emergencies or companies’ construction laydown requirements would also allow park operators to better respond to unplanned events.

A good development plan will help developers identify organizational needs for the future (anywhere from one to twenty years) and having the blueprint allows them to update their plans more easily as the operating environments and trends evolve.

Importance of Sustainability to an Industrial Park

The effects of Climate Change and in recent times, the Pandemic, have brought Environmental, Social and Governance (‘ESG’) issues to the fore. Increasingly, businesses are beginning to embrace this new consensus. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, released an open letter warning companies that it would be “increasingly disposed” to vote against boards moving too slowly on sustainability[1]. BP has also called time on the Oil & Gas era and asserts that demand for fossil fuels has peaked, with the company pivoting towards Power and Renewables[2]. In a similar vein, TOTAL announced its plans to expand its renewable power generation capacity with the goal of generating 15 to 20% of its revenue from low-carbon electricity by 2040. These changes will have a lasting impact on society and the way businesses are conducted.

In Surbana Jurong’s (SJ) industrial development projects, preparing for future industries, the environment and community take precedence. SJ aims to create resilient spaces that integrate the surrounding landscapes and resources management. Circular production models, which focus on enabling the re-use and recycling of materials, will position the development to better address future resource security issues and result in smaller environmental impacts.

[1] https://www.blackrock.com/uk/individual/larry-fink-ceo-letter

[2] https://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/business-sites/en/global/corporate/pdfs/energy-economics/energy-outlook/bp-energy-outlook-2020.pdf


Figure 3 Surbana Jurong partnered with Apollo Aquaculture Group to develop the Floating Ponds urban farm concept – an integrated, self-contained fish farming ecosystem, that helps safeguards local food security and resilience in an increasingly urbanised landscape. The 1.5 ha 8-storey vertical fish farm will be the world’s first vertical fish farm and will produce an estimated 2,400 tonnes of seafood a year. The vertically stacked fish raceways help to multiply the production capacity; while its self-sustaining, closed loop farming ecosystem optimises the use of resources – water, nutrients and energy. The outcome is an ecologically sustainable farming model which is modular, scalable and replicable, e.g. an advanced prototype water-reticulation within the tanks will recycle more than 90% of the water, thereby reducing fresh water topping up.

Where possible, energy sources considered for industry should also be as green as possible. This will add to the viability and attractiveness of the development to industrialists who aspire to achieve carbon neutrality in their manufacturing footprint. Ørsted, ranked top in the Corporate Knights 2020 Global 100 Index of most sustainable corporations, is one such organisation that followed through on its commitment to carbon neutrality by making the decisive transformation from one of the most coal-intensive energy companies in Europe a decade ago to focus entirely on renewables today[1].  23% of the Fortune 500 have made a public commitment to carbon abatement and this number will only increase[2].

 Community engagement and inclusiveness is also a critical angle when it comes to addressing sustainable development. Residents in the immediate area surrounding a development will have to deal with increased levels of noise, dust, and other externalities owing to the development. There have been instances where communities’ feedback led to developments being reviewed. The scrutiny on projects is further heightened in the social media era. It is therefore vital for decision makers and park developers to engage the community on the impact of the project; and these efforts can be bolstered with technologies to increase the transparency of developments, such as virtual dashboards detailing construction progress and emission impacts for example.

[1] https://www.corporateknights.com/reports/2020-global-100/top-company-profile-orsted-sustainability-15795648/

[2] https://assets.naturalcapitalpartners.com/downloads/Deeds_Not_Words__The_Growth_Of_Climate_Action_In_The_Corporate_World.pdf

Figure 4 Surbana Jurong’s member company – SMEC is providing community consultation, design and engineering services for the Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm project in Barcaldine, Queensland. The project site of approximately 90ha is intended to contribute more than 53,000 MWh of renewable electricity into the national grid each year; and will benefit communities and businesses which currently suffer from poor power reliability and outages due to its remote location.

A Best-in-Class Development Plan Must be Robust & Future-ready

It should address the following:

  1. Does its physical planning consider environmental factors such as climate change and carbon management?
  2. How well does it adapt to future scenarios caused by disruptive technologies and digitalisation?
  3. What are the energy efficiency and risk management strategies?
  4. How well do the park management processes deal with business continuity and resources sustainability?
  5. How does the industrial park achieve operational excellence?

Gearing Up for the Future with Smart Industrial Parks

With the COVID-19 pandemic creating a slowdown in demand and forcing manufacturers to reduce the number of workers on site, it is now more than ever an opportune time to explore smarter ways of doing things. Technologies can help reduce worker density and free up the workforce for greater value-added roles in the future.

The objective of a smart industrial park is to achieve a positive outcome for users of the industrial park space and the environment. The concept of a smart and sustainable park is a community of industrial and business activities, planned and built with the environment in mind, that cooperate with each other and the local community to share information, materials, energy or infrastructure thus leading to economic gains, creation of jobs, and improvements in the environment.

Figure 5 Surbana Jurong is developing a concept master plan of a 62 ha digital economy hub in Nongsa, Indonesia. The hub is envisioned to be a digital bridge between Indonesia and Singapore, by anchoring digital-related activities in Indonesia while providing Singapore companies easier access to a growing pool of local Indonesian tech talent. With technology and creative industries as key drivers of Indonesia’s economy, the digital economy hub in Nongsa will contribute directly to strengthening and growing Indonesia’s tech and innovation ecosystem.

The journey towards developing smart parks is not a blind pursuit to increase the number of sensors and equipment, but is an endeavour to identify and deploy the most effective solution for the facility based on its unique conditions and the development’s value proposition. Industrial park developers need to plan for smart park-compatible infrastructure to minimise corrective work later which would be costly and disruptive. One such example is the planning of roads and land plots. As fleets of autonomous vehicles become more commonplace, roads within the industrial parks may need to include dedicated lanes until full autonomy is achieved. Another related trend is vehicle electrification, which would require land and space to be set aside for charging facilities at many locations.

These infrastructure requirements will continue to evolve as the industrial park develops and clients’ requirements change; and having timely access to essential park operations data will help the industrial park developer to make informed decisions. It enables oversight on important processes such as monitoring of key infrastructure within the industrial park and external commercial exchanges with customers, and is the key to smooth operations.

Data plays an integral role in the development of smart industrial parks – namely Sustainability, Logistics Efficiency, Safety, Security and Economic Competitiveness. Most industrial parks are experiencing data overload from various infrastructure and systems; and these operations are often operated in silos. Ideally, these data should be integrated with new data from sensors to conduct analytics of various forms including descriptive, diagnostics, as well as advanced analytics, such as predictive and prescriptive analytics involving machine learning algorithms. The following section will provide some examples to illustrate how data and technologies may be deployed to support the 5 key drivers of the smart industrial park.

Figure 6 Five Key drivers of Smart Industrial Parks (Surbana Jurong proprietary)


Climate change solutions exist today, but require the support of appropriate policy measures to succeed. In the last decade, energy transition has progressed significantly across different industrial sectors, from decarbonising energy sources to increasing operational energy efficiencies. Energy transition can be understood as the global energy sector’s shift from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption, to renewable energy sources like wind and solar, as well as lithium-ion batteries. This is made possible with advancements in technologies and a societal push towards sustainability, and facilitated by the implementation of regulatory policies. The European Union has taken on a leading role to spur the birth of the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050 through its newly announced Climate Law which would impose legally binding climate goals on its member countries[1]. In the same vein, China has also pledged to be a carbon-neutral country by 2060[2]. Apart from China, sixty-six countries have signalled their intent to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050[3]; and almost 200 nations have committed to curb global warming by substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions[4].

Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (‘UNFCCC’), the Paris Agreement created a framework for governments and industries to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. While the world still has a long way to go in meeting its targets, it is evident that companies are progressively making efforts to switch to renewables and low-carbon alternatives, as well as cleaner industrial processes, especially as regulatory and investor scrutiny increases.

Industrial parks, especially the petrochemicals sector, are one of the most energy-intensive facilities. Park developers can work closely with the companies on site to progress towards the vision of net-zero emissions. Based on the terrain and natural resources available, park developers can plan and build infrastructure to tap into these renewable resources, be it wind, tidal, solar etc; and deploy sensors to monitor their operating status and energy output to facilitate a seamless switch to an alternative energy source in the event of damage or unavailable energy source (e.g. cloudy day, lack of wind) and overcome its intermittency.

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/eu-climate-action_en

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/23/china-claims-it-will-be-carbon-neutral-by-the-year-2060.html?view=story&%24DEVICE%24=native-android-mobile?__source=androidappshare

[3] https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/sixty-six-countries-vow-carbon-neutrality-by-2050-un

[4] https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/global-action-plan-to-limit-global-warming-adopted-by-almost-200-nations-after-marathon

Figure 7 Surbana Jurong’s member company – SMEC, has been engaged to provide consultancy services supporting the design and construction of a proposed 300KW micro hydro project in Malawi, covering an area of 7.3ha, and funded by the United Nations Development Programme. A micro hydro project is a hydroelectric power scheme that produces up to 100KW of electricity using a flowing stream or a water flow for isolated communities where an electricity grid is not available.

In line with the Paris Agreement, Singapore is continually exploring ways to maximise the use of less carbon intensive fuels and increase energy efficiency. JTC, Singapore’s lead agency for industrial development, has partnered industry players to roll out solar initiatives since 2017, to optimise the use of vacant industrial land and roof space, and to promote the generation and adoption of solar energy[1]. Jurong Island was identified as an appropriate location for the pilot project, due to its availability of large plots of vacant land for the solar PV panels.

Energy efficiency is an increasingly important contributor to climate change mitigation. At the same time, it helps to reduce the life cycle cost of energy. Recognising this as an opportunity for innovation, SJ has partnered Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to develop and testbed a Cryo-Poly-Generation system, an integrated rapidly deployable and highly energy efficient solution to help meet the growing energy needs of urbanization and industrialization. It is a one-stop solution which encompasses the technologies by which power generation, cold energy harnessing, cold export, cryogenic power generation, city gas generation, steam and hot water (Cryo-Poly-Generation) can be jointly generated from one plant based on the needs of the user. High levels of energy efficiency can be achieved by utilizing cold energy from LNG and waste heat from power generation.

[1] https://www.jtc.gov.sg/news-and-publications/featured-stories/Pages/A-Boost-for-Clean-Energy-in-Singapore.aspx

Figure 8 Surbana Jurong is test-bedding a Cryo-Poly-Generation system which will achieve total energy optimisation enabled by small scale off-grid electricity generation and cold harnessing using LNG.

In addition to monitoring and optimising energy usage and management, effective waste management and disposal are also essential elements of a smart park. With a sizeable population living and working in the park daily, the large volume of domestic and industrial waste will need to be treated, recycled and disposed safely with minimal contamination to the environment. Real-time monitoring of the environment can be achieved through a range of IoT sensors for air, water and soil quality to ensure there is no ground water contamination from the discharge of the factories.

An alternative and innovative approach is the deployment of the Fish Activity Monitoring System (FAMS) by Singapore’s national water agency. The system is equipped with video cameras that have image analysis software to automate and centralise the monitoring of fish activity as an early detection of changes in the quality of the treated water[1].

[1] https://oar.a-star.edu.sg/jspui/bitstream/123456789/1283/1/2008%20SIWW%20AFAMSfEDoWC.pdf

Sustainability – Points to Consider:

  • How to motivate every industrialist to champion sustainability in their operations?
  • What aspects of sustainability make the most sense?
  • How does the park owner / developer / operator play a value-adding role?
  • How to set park-level goals?

Efficient Logistics

Park operators can leverage multi-sensory input, such as closed loop sensors on the ground and artificial intelligence (AI) based video analytics, for comprehensive and real-time monitoring of traffic conditions within the estate. With these data, park operators can understand the movement of people, goods and vehicles – how the transportation system is being utilised, how and when congestions occur, and even the number and type of vehicles travelling. These solutions will support park-level planning of the transportation network. With this, park operators can ascertain if there is a need to widen the roads, adjust the number of lanes, or create a dedicated cycling lane – and these are all decisions which would not have been easy to make in the absence of the traffic data.

Underground systems such as the tube capsule may be deployed for freight transport in congested urban areas, covering up to 150km and freeing up precious surface land for higher value-added activities. Automated capsule systems are typically used for pallet sized cargoes and containers.

Efficient Logistics – Points to Consider:

  • How well do we understand the supply chain of the industrialists?
  • Is the transportation plan future-ready?
  • How to build a robust logistics ecosystem within the park?
  • What does the risk management playbook look like?


 The ability to monitor and trace the movement of people has been pivotal in helping to stem the spread of COVID-19. Governments worldwide have been quick to launch various digital tools to achieve this end, and industrial park operators have a similar responsibility if they wish to maintain a pandemic-resilient industrial park.

Figure 9 To help minimise the risk of infection spread at project worksites, Surbana Jurong started trialling a wearable contact tracing device at one of its construction worksites. The technology allows proactive tracking of interactions and movements which could possibly shorten the contact tracing process to under 2 hours and minimise disruptions to operations. This is especially useful at construction sites where there is usually a high volume of movement by different groups of contractors and suppliers.

Ensuring safe manufacturing practices is the responsibility of individual companies. However, it is also crucial for the park operator to have a system-level overview of safety considerations for long-term land planning and emergency response, particularly for petrochemical parks which involve hazardous activities. This can be achieved through a centralised risk assessment system, which integrates the quantitative risk assessments from upcoming and existing facilities, overlaid against GIS data, and with capabilities that include understanding the harm footprints, individual risk contours, and conducting consequence modelling. Data from sensors can be deployed at sensitive locations, such as near or within hazardous facilities and worker dormitories, to measure environmental conditions including wind direction, humidity, air quality and contaminants. The data is then channelled into the blast and plume simulation engines to help the park operator estimate the likelihood of incidents and to understand how incidents might occur and spread. Such information is critical during emergencies to help the park operator decide when to trigger an evacuation, and to coordinate multi-agency, multi-disciplinary emergency response efforts.

As 5G networks with its faster speeds, greater capacity and reduced latency gain traction, we can expect new and improved services especially in the areas of virtual reality, IoT and AI.  An example is the mixed reality maintenance of complex machinery and equipment by experts stationed overseas, which will strengthen workplace safety by reducing manual interference and support flexible remote work arrangements for a more pandemic resilient workplace.

Safety – Points to Consider:

  • How to inculcate a safety mindset in everyone?
  • How good are we at detecting threats to safety?
  • Does the hazards management framework support the growth of the park?


Having control and knowledge over who, what and when people, vehicles and goods entering and leaving the park is fundamental to ensure the security of the park. This is also a top priority for industrial parks with high risk activities (such as petrochemical parks) or high value products. Pre-screening of people and vehicles, and the use of biometrics such as fingerprint and face recognition, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and under carriage scanners for vehicles, will collectively reduce the risks of unauthorised access to the industrial park premises, and help to monitor the checkpoint to mitigate cumbersome manual checks that are subject to human error.

It is also essential to deploy a platform of video analytics, which will allow each video stream to be processed with different analytics to generate different alerts for different stakeholders depending on the park’s changing security posture. Together with physical access control and video analytics, the park developer can help ensure a secured and controlled environment to minimise disruptions to the supply chain and at the same time allow companies to have assurance on the timeliness of delivery and quality of goods.

In addition to physical security, cyber security is another aspect which should not be neglected. Particularly as the cyber-attack surface has increased with the exponential growth in implementation of IoT sensors integrated with SCADA, Industrial Controls Systems (ICS), IT systems and cloud containers in industrial parks. As a responsible smart park operator, it is crucial to continually monitor and have the resources to conduct a coordinated response to known and previously unknown cyber threats; and these can be achieved through a cyber security operations centre.

Security – Points to Consider:
• Is there an emergency response plan for the park?
• What model is used for scanning and evaluating technology options?
• How to achieve a balanced view in line with the park’s risk profile?

Economic Competitiveness

A command centre is essential for achieving situation awareness in the industrial park and responding with appropriate resources. The command centre is akin to the nerve centre for the park operator, which consolidates all the important data feeds for a holistic view of the park operations 24/7, 365 days a year, thereby enabling quick response to incidents such as traffic accidents, or pipe leaks. The command centre can also serve as the coordination centre with external agencies for firefighting and crowd controls, etc, when needed.

With an aggregated platform to integrate all the sub-systems within the industrial park, from security applications, building management systems to the communicable devices, the park operator will be able to effectively monitor and control these applications and equipment from a single unified surface, respond faster to situations, strengthen security and access control, and lower operational costs. Ultimately, the outcome should be a more controlled park environment with smoother operations, and a more economically competitive industrial park.

Ningbo Petrochemical Economic & Technological Development Zone is one such industrial park that has invested heavily in various systems to monitor and manage various domains of its park operations and is actively utilising data to monitor its key equipment and processes. In 2019, the park was ranked 2nd in the country’s top chemical parks and is a forerunner in establishing smart and green practices in China[1]. Closer to home in Singapore, Hyundai held a virtual groundbreaking ceremony in October 2020, which will produce electric vehicles, and test-bed various smart and advanced manufacturing systems such as IoT and artificial intelligence. The new multi-function facility is expected to generate hundreds of new jobs[2]. These examples suggest that, generally, companies that have invested in and continue to invest in improving their management of existing data, growth of usable data, and usage of data analytics, will continue to thrive even in times of economic uncertainty.

[1] https://cs.zjol.com.cn/zjbd/nb16504/201905/t20190524_10188819.shtml

[2] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/carmaking-returns-to-singapore-with-new-smart-plant-in-jurong

Economic Competitiveness – Points to Consider:

  • What is best-in-class park management?
  • How does responsiveness translate to tangible benefits to industrialists?

Continuous Adaptation

Recent events have driven home the point that we live in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world. The COVID-19 pandemic, financial crises, climate change, tightening emissions standards, and geopolitical tensions are just some of the events in the past decade that highlight how globalisation can and will continue to disrupt all aspects of our lives. The COVID-19 pandemic is a textbook example of how companies were caught off-guard by the pandemic and scrambled overnight to respond to sudden lockdowns and disrupted supply chains. While no one could have anticipated the outbreak, companies could have mitigated the impact to some extent if they had identified and prioritized mission critical functions and developed business continuity plans beforehand, as part of a Pandemic Influenza Risk Management Plan. Industrial park developers that seek to create an operationally resilient ecosystem, and build deeper relationships than that of a straightforward landlord, should also engage the companies to spearhead and develop business continuity measures at a park-level such as ensuring the delivery of food supplies and clear transportation networks.

Technological advances in an increasingly interconnected world have also heightened the pace of change and complexity of doing business. Without knowing what changes to expect, how can companies set themselves up for success? Strategy is, by definition, all about evaluating the myriad options to derive the best decision. In our VUCA world, this means leveraging technological enhancements to interpret the constant stream of data and continually adapting the strategy.

We need to consider ongoing and anticipated changes in the environment and in our competitors, what needs to change and the trade-offs, how to change, and how each decision will ultimately fit in with the company’s strategic priorities.  Flexibility and agility do not mean continually changing strategy, but rather – possessing the acumen to perceive when and how to adapt.


Today, there is no single universally agreed upon definition of what makes a development ‘smart’. If everyone is doing the same new thing, is that still considered ‘smart’? In our opinion, smartness is relative to the socio-economic-environment concerns and challenges of the day, and it hinges upon nimble strategic adaptations – be it quick adoption of emerging technology or even a review of existing processes and organisational set up to gain competitive advantage over competitors.

Unfortunately, this means there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will guarantee the success of any or all smart industrial park because each one faces a different set of challenges and opportunities; and circumstances, technology and competitor adoption change rapidly.

Figure 10 Surbana Jurong provided multi-disciplinary consultancy services as well as sustainability and resiliency solutions for Singapore’s first one-stop poultry processing hub. Named JTC Poultry Processing Hub, the 8-storey multi-tenanted development is designed to house poultry slaughtering and processing establishments, featuring fully-automated and high-speed slaughtering lines that are shared by multiple companies. This will enable closer collaboration and sharing of resources among the establishments. (Photo provided by JTC)

The real (if not so exciting) secret to cracking the smart industrial park code lies in the knowledge and experience we have accumulated from having worked on several cutting-edge projects locally and globally for clients from various industry sectors in more than 40 countries. With our comprehensive suite of multi-disciplinary, best-in-class solutions across the full value chain, we are well-equipped to help industrial park developers craft targeted strategies and processes that will enable them to continuously ‘smart-ify’ their industrial parks appropriate to their unique challenges.


Connect with Us

Wang Zhenglin
Email: zhenglin.wang@surbanajurong.com

Cynthia Tan
Email: cynthia.tanph@surbanajurong.com

Tara Tang
Email: tara.tangsl@surbanajurong.com

Dennis Tan
Email:  dennis.tankm@surbanajurong.com

Providing Future-Ready Management Services

What is the single biggest change in the Facilities Management (FM) business as a result of COVID-19, is a pertinent question in the FM industry, moving forward. To Surbana Jurong’s FM team (managed by SMM Pte Ltd), the FM business is now regarded as one of the essential services not only in Singapore but internationally as a result of the pandemic. The scope of work for SMM’s facilities management in Singapore has expanded to include the adoption of technology to maintain business continuity and also to safeguard the well-being of employees during this time. At the outbreak of COVID-19, SMM was involved in the role of safe management advisory to provide the guidance to clients, which saw an increase in demand from clients in the adoption of technologies in their day-to-day work. This gives SJ a distinctive competitive edge.

Building Cities, Shaping Lives

The general FM business refers to the integrated management of multiple and interdisciplinary technologies, personnel, systems and processes. The goal behind FM is to promote an efficient and collaborative environment to meet and fulfil the key objectives and mission of an organisation. The organisational function integrates people, place and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business. This neatly fits with Surbana Jurong’s corporate objective which is “Building Cities, Shaping Lives.”

Facilities management therefore is intensely customer and people-centric, and in a competitive environment, the solutions provided must be comprehensive, integrated and intelligent. Intelligent is now the new buzzword and key service delivery as a comprehensive system for all aspects of building and facility management allows for IoT monitoring, namely space, water, energy, utilization, indoor air quality and more.

There are two major types of facilities management: Hard FM and Soft FM. Hard FM refers to services relating to the actual structures and systems that make a facility work, and can include fire safety, plumbing, structural, and elevator maintenance. Soft FM refers to services that overlap with property management, such as pest control, cleaning, grounds maintenance, and security. Clients may require something physical to be built or installed for a specific purpose, for example hardware facilities like central heating, air equipment, and lighting fixtures. It can also refer to non-equipment resources like staff management, grounds maintenance, and technology-driven security services.

Leading the business with smart technologies

Covid-19 has accentuated SMM’s implementation of smart technologies to enhance work productivity and efficiencies. The Smart FM framework released by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) strongly calls for the need to formulate strategies and embrace smart technologies in our FM operations. SMM’s default approach is to continuously seek to achieve higher work efficiency and productivity with the adoption of innovative technologies. It has included technologies such as mobility app, digital FM, smart robotics cleaning, smart bins and smart toilet monitoring sensors. These solutions complement its core services and value-adding offerings to clients.

At a glance, SMM’s innovative solutions include:

  • robotic cleaning (automated cleaning with the use of robots to sweep, vacuum, scrub and mop the floor);
  • smart toilet monitoring system (using sensors to identify air quality, consumables and footfall, reduce cleaning labour and improve productivity);
  • self-taking temperature screening system (takes a person’s temperature in less than 2 seconds, portable and issues alert when the temperate exceeds the threshold);
  • solar-powered smart bin (7-8 times more waste capacity to reduce frequency of waste collection and send e-notifications to cleaning staff).

SMM actively participates in the Happy Toilet Programme, developed and implemented by the Restroom Association of Singapore, and supported by National Environment Agency (NEA). Set criteria for the implementation include working condition of the facilities, amenities, cleanliness, smart and special features. As the comprehensive rating system showcases good toilet facilities standards, adopters of the programme enjoy enhanced brand image for their buildings.

Of significance is our community mobility application which has several unique and customer centric benefits. The app improves efficiency and enhances user experience through the smart digitisation of processes, and promotes a strong community culture. For example, the AI-based mobile app utilised by tertiary institutions has enabled app users to enjoy a unified and seamless campus community experience. It has also helped these clients in their time-space management, namely planning and shift rationalisation, viewing real-time allocation, and space utilisation.

SMM’s community mobility app has over 30 smart technology features and the diagrams below illustrate how it helps the client, the community, and the users within the community. It facilitates clients’ understanding of space usage pattern, in the context of video analytics, business intelligence and analytics, and to obtain actionable insights, and detailed reporting of all their activities within the premises such as seat booking, smart access, traffic management, incident reporting, visitor management, smart cafeteria and community engagement.

As part of our service delivery in Singapore’s Smart Nation pursuit, SMM has built within the community mobility app – a proprietary iSMM. It is an in-house application that enables digital back-end communications between site operations team and service vendors to support maintenance operations. It can be seamlessly integrated with our community mobility app solution as a one-stop platform. The features include fault reporting, inventory management, corrective maintenance, preventive maintenance, broadcasting, inventory management, asset listing, analytics dashboard and monthly reporting. The features provide transparency in work delivery, streamlines FM processes and drives performance in FM operations and systems.

To summarise, in the management of FM, SMM takes strategic and tactical perspectives when working with other divisions, clients, and customers to help them understand the impact of their decisions on managing the facility. The operational roles carry out tasks with a highly-trained level of skill and on-the-ground knowledge. SMM adopts both the “bird’s eye” and the “worm’s eye” perspectives: the “bird’s eye” role oversees and coordinates efforts, with our well qualified staff, and with strong and extensive prior experience in the field. The “worm’s view” is primarily “in-the-field” role with a strong eye for details and technical expertise. Worm’s perspective include performing the task to full completion, keeping aware of all changing regulations in the industry, documenting and reporting on inefficiency and issues, finding operational areas to improve, calculating costs of materials and supplies, responding to emergencies calmly and swiftly, and delegating and coordinating simultaneous FM efforts.

Looking ahead, and with a bird’s eye perspective to the question on what’s the single biggest change in the FM business as a result of COVID-19, SMM’s answer is to look at the FM business through different lenses: there is the physical resilience of assets as facilities management addresses the need for maintenance, ensuring the assets do not slowly crumble. The resilience is to take into account climate risks and to continuously build resources to effectively manage assets for the long-term. Technology affects both the use and the cost of infrastructure, and facilities management helps ensure that the clients’ assets stay resilient, viable and does not suffer from obsolescence. COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated that facilities management is an essential service to future-proofing infrastructure in a volatile, uncertain world of climate change and pandemics.


Connect with Us

SMM Pte Ltd

For enquiry, please email: asksmm@surbanajurong.com


Infrastructure for a Resilient Economy

By Er. Dr. Ang Choon Keat
Managing Director
Prostruct Consulting Pte Ltd

Manmade and natural disasters can cause serious damages and disruption to infrastructures and businesses.

The Oklahoma City Bombing on 19 April 1995 led to the progressive collapse of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building (Linenthal, 2020) and subsequent cessation of all operations. The explosion of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate at the port of Beirut, Lebanon on 4 Aug 2020 killed at least 160, wounded 6,000 and displaced 300,000 people from their homes (Reid, 2020). Buildings in a 10 km radius were reported to be damaged (Balkiz, Qiblawi, & Wedeman, 2020). The recent COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to businesses and the way we work, live and play.

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Kiat has highlighted the importance of a resilient economy in the post COVID-19 world (The Straits Times, 2020). All businesses should consider the resilience of their infrastructure and incorporate the relevant physical measures and institute operational preparedness, to mitigate against possible disruptions to ensure business continuity.

What is Infrastructure Resilience?
The National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) in the United States defines Infrastructure Resilience as the ability to reduce the magnitude and/or duration of disruptive events. The effectiveness of a resilient infrastructure or enterprise depends upon its ability to anticipate, absorb, adapt to, and/or rapidly recover from a potentially disruptive event. Similarly, the Resilient Design Institute defines Resilience as the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance.  It is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption.

For example, the England Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR) Framework (2015) outlines the requirements for the National Health Service (NHS) to prepare for emergencies, to have flexible arrangements which can be scalable and adaptable to work in a wide range of scenarios. EPRR aims to ensure that plans are in place to ensure resilience, allowing the community, services, area or infrastructure to detect, prevent, withstand, handle and recover from disruptive challenges (NHS England National EPRR Unit, 2015).

Achieving Infrastructure Resilience
The National Institute of Building Science (2018) in the United States presented four Infrastructure Resilience principles to minimize the disruption to building operations caused by any undesired event and the time taken to return to 100% operability:

Robustness – The ability to maintain critical operations and functions in the face of crisis. The building, its critical and supporting systems can be designed to minimize disruptions.

Redundancy – Backup capabilities are able to provide critical functions when primary sources have failed, reducing the down time of critical functions and their impact to building operations.

Resourcefulness – The ability to prepare for, respond to and manage an ongoing crisis or disruption. It includes effective communication of decisions made, business continuity planning, supply chain management, security and resilience management systems. These contingency measures are to prioritize courses of action to control and mitigate damage and should be adaptable to ensure effectiveness in various scenarios.

Recovery – The ability to return to normal operations as quickly and efficiently as possible after a disruption through the deployment of the right resources to the right places.

The United States National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP): Partnering for Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (NIPP, 2013) provides guidance to the critical infrastructure community to build and sustain critical infrastructure security and resilience to manage risks. The United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA 452) offers a similar framework. The following methodology was referenced from these frameworks (refer to Figure 1).

Figure 1: Risk Management Process

Set Goals and Objectives of Infrastructure Resilience – Establish objectives and priorities for critical infrastructure that are tailored and scaled to their available resources, operational and risk environments.

Identify Critical Assets – Establish and identify the assets, systems, and networks that are essential to the continued operation, considering associated dependencies and interdependencies.

Assess and Analyse Risks – Risk assessments are conducted to facilitate the owner in decision making.

Implement Risk Management Activities – Implement measures that minimize disruption to operations and reduce time required to return to normal operations.

Loss mitigation and business continuity under disruption are key considerations in Physical Security and Bio-Security and this framework could help in the planning and design for infrastructure resilience.

Infrastructure Resilience: Physical Security
The threat of terrorism to our security remains high. As the current COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world causing social and economic fallout, security experts are wary of a resurgent and revamped form of terrorism found on extremism and assisted by online connectivity. The resilience of infrastructure against physical security threats can be examined using the Infrastructure Resilience Principles, and the Risk Management framework could be used to develop strategies to frustrate and disrupt an adversarial attack. The infrastructure and its critical and supporting systems could be designed for robustness to minimize disruptions in the event of a terror attack. Backup of the critical functions could be provided for redundancy. Business continuity planning, security and resilience management systems could be developed to prioritize courses of action to control and mitigate damage and ensure effectiveness in various scenarios including terror attack. The infrastructure could also be designed for optimal recovery and return to normal operations as quickly and efficiently as possible after a terror attack. These principles are frequently applied in the Risk Management methodology and further developed into an infrastructure resilience strategy. An example is the following 5 layered strategy deployed to provide a robust prevention and protection system against terror threats (NIAC,2009) (MHA, 2018):

Deter – Deterrence aims to prevent a potential disruption by turning the infrastructure or facility into an undesirable target. It can be achieved via facility design, rules and protocols that prohibit undesired activities or encourage desired practices and awareness.

Detect – Early detection of potential disruption alerts stakeholders, giving them more time to better respond to the disruption.

Delay – This layer aims to slow down the progress of disruption by using obstacles. Stakeholders can use the additional time to better respond to the disruption.

Deny – By creating separate zones within the building, exposure of critical portions of the building to disruption would be reduced.

Defend – This layer focuses on reducing the damage or impact to operations if disruptive incidents occur. It can be achieved by purposeful design of infrastructure and holistic management plans to deal with the crisis.

Figure 2: Protection Plan

Figure 2 above illustrates the Physical Security measures and technologies which can be utilized to achieve these Physical Security principles. First, deterrence via the various security and protection measures is used to discourage any attempt of an attack by emphasizing on the likelihood of failure and capture. It is a psychological battle to ensure that some intended criminal activities never start. Effectiveness of security measures can also be amplified through signages and messages.

Entry into the controlled zone would be denied to unauthorized personnel at security checkpoints. Anti-climb fences, vehicle barriers and bollards are implemented to deny and delay any attempt to enter the controlled zone.

Figure 3: Security Bollards

CCTV systems, intrusion detection systems, electronic access control systems are typical detection systems that alert security forces of any breach of security. The asset can be further defended by hardening the critical sections of the building.

A straightforward method of hardening is to increase the physical size and / or reinforcement details of structural components to improve the resistance against threats such as explosions and blast loads. Alternatively, structural components can also be strengthened by other means such as Fibre Reinforced Polymer composites or steel jacketing. Openings such as doors, windows, louvres etc can also be installed with blast rated protections.

Even with the implementation of prevention and protection measures, it is still possible that the attack was successful at damaging the asset, causing disruption to building operations.

With backup assets and resources, single points of failure can be prevented. The contingency plans enacted during peacetime would facilitate the takeover of critical functions within a short timeframe, returning operations to normal levels.

To mitigate the weaknesses of Physical Security measures and design, there is a need to have an adequate number of personnel with the right competencies to ensure effective security & resilience operations during crisis – including proper response to crimes and terrorist attacks. Depending on the nature of threats, additional external response may be required to mitigate the threats. Resources, standard operating procedures and communication channels should be in place beforehand such that the response can be initiated immediately.

Infrastructure Resilience: Bio-Security
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for the world. Some organisations have realised their lack of Infrastructure Resilience in the face of the pandemic. Significant outbreaks of disease / biological threats can threaten lives and cause disruption to infrastructure and the businesses. This is true regardless of the origin of the outbreak:


  • Pandemic Influenza
  • Emerging infectious diseases


  • Accidental release from scientific or industrial facilities
  • Deliberate biological attack

The UK Biological Security Strategy (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs et al., 2018) provides four pillars in response to biological threats: Understand, Prevent, Detect and Respond. These pillars can be adapted for Infrastructure Resilience.

Understand – Understand the risks of ongoing or possible future biological threats.

Prevent – Prevent the spread of the pathogen through design of the building

Detect – Ability to identify biological threats or carriers through the use of detection systems and tests.

Respond – Reduce the impact of biological threats and enable rapid recovery to normal operations.

Regardless of whether it is ongoing or future biological threats, understanding the threats in areas such as typical transmission methods, symptoms, signs of contamination etc. is crucial for the selection of effective prevention, detection and response methods.

Prevention of the spread of biological threats can be considered during the building’s design phase. Ventilation systems of various sections of the building can be isolated to deny the travel of air borne pathogens from one part of the building to another. Positive pressure rooms prevent outside air from entering, denying entry of the pathogen.

Protective design with isolation of special-use spaces through layout and ventilation system planning can further limit the impact of contaminants in vulnerable spaces on the rest of the building, thereby reducing exposure to the bulk of the building occupants (Persily et al., 2007).

Detection of biological threats before it enters a building can be done via sensing technologies and procedures. Sensors can be deployed at entry points to detect signs of biological threats or symptoms of carriers, preventing possible spread and disruption to operations. Temperature sensors for COVID-19 are examples of sensors that can be implemented quickly during a crisis.

Figure 4: Temperature Screening at Entry Points for COVID-19

The most critical response during an ongoing biological threat incident is to have effective and proportionate strategies to decontaminate any area, to allow a return to normal as soon as possible. Implementation of contingency measures such as staggering of work, meal times, and physical distancing etc. at the workplace combined with wearing of masks can aid in delaying the spread of some pathogen.

Besides the impact to occupants, biological threats may impact the operations of the supply chain, leading to disruptions downstream. Buildings that are able to manage supply chain issues during lock down by implementing business continuity measures and securing alternative sources of supply would be able to quickly recover from the initial disruption. Appropriate stockpiling of resources and material during peace time is crucial to provide effective recovery against a wide range of potential scenarios.

Redundancy of personnel can be achieved with split team arrangements as they prevent the spread of pathogens across teams, with each team acting as the respective backup of the other. Telecommuting can be implemented to restore operations in a lockdown, allowing for the rapid recovery of normal operations for certain services and industries.

Figure 5: Telecommuting (Rawson, 2019)


The Infrastructure Resilience Principles and Risk Management framework presented here provide building owners, security designers, engineers and architects with a structured approach to planning and designing for Infrastructure Resilience. Effective strategies can be developed to minimise disruption to operations and ensure business continuity, for example, when faced with physical security and bio-security threats.

In the building of a resilient economy, the resilience of the infrastructure would be essential to assure investors and business owners that supply chain would not be disrupted and business could continue, and people operating the infrastructure and occupants of the buildings are confident that they would be effectively protected and it is safe to work, live and play.

** End **

Connect with Us
Ang Choon Keat
Email: choonkeat.ang@prostruct.com.sg


Balkiz, G., Qiblawi, T., & Wedeman, B. (2020, August 05). Huge explosion rocks Beirut, injuring thousands across Lebanese capital. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://edition.cnn.com/2020/08/04/middleeast/beirut-explosion-port-intl/index.html

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Department of Health and Social CareHome Office (2018). UK Biological Security Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/biological-security-strategy (Accessed: 27 August 2020)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (2005). Risk Assessment A How-To Guide to Mitigate Potential Terrorist Attacks Against Buildings.

Linenthal, E. T. (2020). Oklahoma City Bombing: The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=OK026

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). (2018). Guidelines to Enhancing Building Security in Singapore. Retrieved from https://www.scdf.gov.sg/home/fire-safety/downloads/acts-codes-regulations/enhancing-building-security

National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC). (2009). Critical Infrastructure Resilience Final Report and Recommendations. Retrieved from https://www.cisa.gov/publication/niac-critical-infrastructure-resilience-final-report

National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP). (2013). Partnering for Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience. Retrieved from https://www.cisa.gov/publication/nipp-2013-partnering-critical-infrastructure-security-and-resilience

National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). (2018, August 1). Building Resilience. WBDG. https://www.wbdg.org/resources/building-resiliency

NHS England National EPRR Unit. (2015). NHS England EPRR Framework. Retrieved from https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/eprr/gf/

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Digital Twins or Triplets

Raj. Thampuran
Managing Director
Technology and Research
Group R&D

A “pretty large bang” was heard by the crew of Apollo 13 two days after their launch from the Kennedy Space Centre on 11th April 1970. This was followed by the immortal words “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here”. The ignition and blast from an exposed wire inside an oxygen tank heralded a dramatic rescue by Mission Control in Houston 330,000 km away. The subsequent four-day odyssey home for the space shuttle was the quintessential “what can go wrong; will go wrong”. As has been said about that mission; “no one has been in this amount of trouble so far from home”.

There are many heroes in a rescue mission of this complexity. One of them is surely a “digital twin”. 15 simulators were connected to computers able to replicate the response to an immense number of technical permutations which would guide the craft home after circling the moon. The space shuttle and its crew landed safely in the Pacific Ocean on 17th April.

Today, a Google search for “digital twin” exceeds 300,000,000 results! Simply, it is the virtual representation (if you like, an avatar) of a physical system in real time. The idea is that the digital twin inhabits and exhibits the realities of a physical asset.

While technology progresses, its use is determined by cultures and people. In a fast paced, ever-changing digital era, not surprisingly for some, digital twins pervade many industries and aspects of private life today. Concepts in Industry 4.0 use digital twins in factory operations to monitor machine performance and spot problems. There are digital twins of hospitals, medical equipment and even human organs. Formula One racing is dominated by digital twins that predict problems, rectify difficulties and optimise the cars during an ultrahigh speed race. With over a hundred sensors in each car, billions of data (of tyre pressures, temperature, drag, acceleration, shifts in the locus of gravity, cockpit conditions) are transmitted via telemetry to remote command centres.

Neither is the built environment industry the last bastion to witness the influence of digital twins that will shape and transform its future. Digital twins will follow any industry impacted by big data. In fact, well before the built environment practice universally shifts from the classical use of two dimensional drawings and physical models to three dimensional, “living” models across the continuum of workflows, the profound value of the existence of information from these twins is already known.

In April 2019, the 12th century French Notre Dame Cathedral was ravaged by a devastating fire. The heroic work of a Vassar Professor, the late Andrew Tallon and his digital twin, restoring the Cathedral to its original design is now a realistic goal. Five years ago, in 2015, Professor Tallon used lasers to create point clouds of the Cathedral’s interior and exterior facades replete with gargoyles and spires. This is today the basis of the 3D digital rendering used in restoring this historical building.

Twins are Triplets in many ways. One of which is that their “DNA” depends on sophisticated software codes, data absorption abilities and pattern recognition (through machine learning or artificial intelligence). There are also commentators who describe twins as cyber, physical and social triplets because their properties manifest in all three realms. However it is viewed, what enables digital twins is the same technologies that propelled so many other revolutions: faster processing speeds, near unquenchable data ingestion capacities, cheap sensors’ ultra-integrated networks, communications rates and bandwidth, data storage, precocious analytical tools and new visualization techniques that allow the physical and digital worlds to meld and blend.

One way to think about the value of digital twins is its ability to participate in the entire built environment industry’s asset life cycle through concept, design, development, project management, construction and managed services. Take the example of the Virtual SingaporeTM platform. There has been much adulation in the media about Singapore’s vision to model and simulate the pulse of a vibrant city. The platform is surfeit with geospatial data about the city-state. It intends, when completed, to provide a digital space and experimental commons to make policy and design decisions, test hypotheses about urban systems and their interdependencies, model environmental impact on the landscape temporally and study community engagements in townships and its surroundings. It is an ambitious digital twin project made successful only by organisations and people able to harness its value.

With Surbana Jurong’s (SJ) domain expertise in the built environment, we have generated 3D models, large scale simulations and high dimensionality building information modelling (BIM) systems in a wide array of areas such as transport, flood control, engineering, masterplanning, design and asset management. And with our ability to incorporate data ingestion, digital twins have also been created. For instance, SJ’s VR City platform (see illustrations 1a, 1b & 1c) is a solution to test infrastructure and its design in response to connections and neighbouring dependencies. On it, changes can be made in a myriad of ways and candidate solutions derived through better information and consequently, preferred outcomes. The vision is to simulate a smart, conscious city that constantly monitors, among other factors, ambient conditions, traffic, accidents, emergencies, commuter and pedestrian patterns. Information is then channeled to an integrated operations centre and the appropriate responses transmitted to the relevant people or agencies.

Illustration 1 – SJ VR City can integrate a variety of data sources and is a convenient platform for urban planners to visualize and study the environment

Illustration 1a – Flood simulation analysis – use of stormwater management model integrated into 3D model to identify vulnerable regions prone to flooding.

Illustration 1b – In city-wide lift or critical M&E asset monitoring, users will have a pictorial overview of asset status and condition and drill-in to the individual asset as necessary to query or activate a follow-up.

Illustration 1c – Traffic monitoring with associated video analytics allows users to zoom in to road conditions or troubled spots to advise on diversionary routes to ease congestion or assist police in tracking rouge vehicles.

We are creating digital twins of our Moshe Safdie-designed SJ Campus harnessing the power of BIM, IoT, artificial intelligence, integrated digital delivery, sensor networks and new age visualisation tools (see illustrations 2a & 2b). To accomplish an equilibrium from many complex factors, the campus demonstrates the use of integrated twins from concept to construction, to long term maintenance. The aim is to create a balanced tropical ecology of light and shade, cooling and radiation deflection, and excellent air circulation and quality. The campus will become a living, pulsating laboratory responding to internal and external ambient factors and always sentient.

Illustrations 2a & 2b – Creating digital twins of Moshe Safdie-designed SJ Campus harnessing the power of BIM, IoT, artificial intelligence, integrated digital delivery, sensor networks and new age visualisation tools.

The constituents of cities and campuses are physical assets – some critical ones such as lifts, airports or hospitals – whose properties are embodied by their twins. If these constituents, each as digital twins, are connected, a digital thread is created. This gives us a glimpse of a future where the connected twins can collaborate with each other, share information and respond in ways that optimise the properties of the group or network. Therefore, in SJ, we embrace a multi-scale, multi-functionality, multidisciplinary strategy to our development of digital twins and its associated technologies. This way, our culture of ideas, creativity and collaboration is not limited by technologies or disciplinary specialisations.

The attractiveness of digital twins should not of course disguise difficulties. One inhibitor is the cost of creating and maintaining digital twin assets. This presents an opportunity for a business model innovation for consultants to become custodians and managers of digital assets for their clients. Providing services that governs and regularly improves data security, storage and integrity enhances model quality, refreshes technology and acts on other important factors of managing the twin.  There is substantial evidence of an industry that has rapidly burgeoned in a short period offering digital twin development services. Another that offers twin and digital asset management and quality assurance services will surely emerge soon, perhaps akin to another data management and applications hosting industry known as cloud service providers.

Digital twins or triplets, quadruplets or siblings, virtual avatars have emerged from the realms of imagination to reality in businesses. Ultimately, as history has proven, companies that are adept at creating, using, innovating and improving through technologies like digital twins will have distinct and formidable advantages over those less able.

** End **

Connect with Us

Raj. Thampuran
Email: raj.thampuran@surbanajurong.com

Simplifying the Art of Contract Management



Mohit Khullar

Head, Commercial & Corporate


Prachika Agarwal

Company Secretary and Senior Legal Executive

SMEC, India (A Member of the Surbana Jurong Group)


Organisations that do not manage their contracts effectively will be at a tremendous competitive disadvantage. This article is a guide on how to handle your contracts successfully.

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) Business Model and Its Role in a Smart City



Dr Lee Jian Xing

Principal Consultant

Smart City Solutions


Dr Wu Xian

Senior Executive Engineer

Civil and Environmental Engineering Planning


Jimmy Lee

Principal Consultant

Smart City Solutions

In the current digital world, many industries are leveraging on big data to improve their businesses such as providing seamless and convenient experience, consumer centric and improving productivity etc. In transport, big data can play a huge role such as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), Autonomous Vehicle deployment, Electric Vehicle deployment, Next Generation Electronic Road Pricing, etc. A comprehensive MaaS application to help commuters plan their journey seamlessly in terms of time saving, cost saving, or improved comfort level must be created to encourage commuting via public transport. Road congestion is a common problem faced in every city in both developed or developing city. MaaS can help to influence commuters to take public transport or even shift the transport mode if it can demonstrate value add in their daily commute. Proper MaaS business model should be customised for that market, and it can be treated as one of the initiatives under a Smart City Plan. This paper examines how big data in MaaS can shed light in commuters’ travel behaviour and even influence the pattern. We also discuss the different roles undertaken in this ecosystem – such as the government, operators and service providers.


2019 Singapore Construction Market Review and Outlook

2018 marked the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 global financial crisis. As financial markets are inherently cyclical, economies are bracing for a few challenging years ahead.

Analysts are anticipating higher risk period for stocks and bonds, with the bull market losing its momentum. The global economy is projected for slower growth this year (3.5%), versus (3.7%) growth in 2018. Amidst growing concern for a full-blown trade war, China’s GDP growth this year is expected to decelerate to 6.2% [Global Economic Prospect, World Bank, January 2019], while the Federal Reserve expects the US economic growth to slow this year to 2.3%.

The Belt Road Initiatives will continue to drive infrastructure growth in the region in 2019, while growth forecast for Southeast Asia’s most robust economies is expected to slow as key regional elections loom ahead this year [Nikkei Asian Review, December 2018]. In Singapore, business sentiment slips for the 3rd straight quarter, while domestic inflationary pressure is rising. Growths in the manufacturing and services sector are expected to be static, compounded with the foreign workers quota tightening and wage growth pressure.

Threesixty Cost Management Pte Ltd is a subsidiary of Surbana Jurong which specialises in cost management and contractual administration from project inception to completion.

Innovative and Practicable Designs in Construction

Infrastructure developments are escalating at an unprecedented speed in recent years in Asia. The continuous urbanization results in the ever increasing need for housing and transportation. Land becomes scarce and these infrastructure developments are planned in closer proximity to the existing structures, sometimes even underneath or above another. This has imposed a unique set of constraints in each case, on both the design and construction. The engineers shall not only design it as a ‘wished-in-place’ structure, but also be familiar with construction techniques and able to apply a suitable method, sometimes a unique one, to overcome those constraints.

In doing so, innovative thinking is needed and innovative ideas are explored and developed into a workable solution. In many instances, these innovations in construction are led by the contractors and their designers.

This paper aims to present the specific constraints the contractors have encountered in the form of three case studies – two projects in Hong Kong and one project in Singapore, and how innovative ideas have been developed into practicable solutions that are both time- and cost-effective.

  • Case Study 1: Singapore – A Steel Footbridge
  • Case Study 2: Hong Kong – A Cut-and-cover Tunnel Crossing Underneath an Existing Tunnel – Alternative Design of Foundation by Re-using Existing Barrettes
  • Case Study 3: Hong Kong – Happy Valley Underground Stormwater Storage Scheme – Use of Drainage Blanket

Pre-Fabricated Pre-Finished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) For Residential Projects

Over the last 2 years, in response to BCA’s roadmap for construction productivity, the industry has seen an upsurge of game-changing technologies and the adoption of innovative building methods. Perhaps one of the more talked about is PPVC (pre-fabricated pre-finished volumetric construction), or more commonly known as “Lego” building. The perceived benefits are well documented, but a common misconception about PPVC is the overall time savings that it can achieve. Generally, construction on-site takes comparatively lesser time because many wet trades are shifted off-site where the modules are constructed, but consideration of the additional time required up-front for detail planning and co-ordination are often overlooked. PPVC do come with its own set of challenges and at a cost premium; however, the additional cost can be off-set by a reduction in construction time and savings on labour cost.

With PPVC modules manufactured and fitted-out off-site, majority of the cost are up-front and contractors may have cashflow issues if a payment mechanism for materials off-site is not in place. As each PPVC supplier works with their own Professional Engineer, issues pertaining intellectual property might arise. There are cases where contractors engaged their own QP and this might affect the novation of consultants in modified Design and Build projects. As with most systems, there is no ‘one size fits all’ and PPVC is still at a very infant stage. This article will further look into the pros and cons of PPVC, the element driving PPVC costs, and the challenges from a procurement perspective.

Threesixty Cost Management Pte Ltd is a subsidiary of Surbana Jurong which specialises in cost management and contractual administration from project inception to completion.