The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) is a statutory board under Singapore’s Ministry of Law. SLA’s key business functions include managing government-owned land and buildings, land sales and leases, acquisitions, and allocations. The authority is the leading geospatial agency in Singapore, and it hosts the national geospatial information database.
Using Oracle’s internet, database, and middleware technologies, SLA developed GeoSpace, a portal that provides powerful integrated data and metadata searches for textual and spatial data. The portal enables more than 70 agencies in Singapore to discover, share, and analyze over 360 layers of geospatial data provided by 34 government departments, saving a total of US$9 million in application development costs and US$2.5 million in annual system maintenance costs.
Government agencies, such as the Land Transport Authority, Urban Redevelopment Authority, and Health Promotion Board, rely on accurate, current geospatial data to allocate and manage land and provide the best possible amenities to the public. Between 2001 and early 2011, SLA used its land information exchange network (LandNet) system to share land data between departments.
Although LandNet served its purpose by providing Web-based access to a central repository of geospatial data, it lacked a fully functional service-oriented architecture (SOA), needed for the capability to decentralize access to Web-based data and metadata-based search and evaluation.
“For Singapore public agencies to make better decisions on planning, operations, and service delivery, we needed to enhance the geospatial information’s potential by linking and integrating geospatial and textual data from various sources,” said Ng Siau Yong, director, geospatial division, Singapore Land Authority. “This would allow it to be quickly discovered, evaluated, assessed, and analyzed by multiple government agencies.”
In 2009, the SLA established the Singapore Geospatial Collaborative Environment (SG-SPACE), a national collaborative initiative to create and sustain an environment where geospatial data, policies, and technologies are integrated to foster innovation and knowledge, and share geospatial data between government, businesses, and the community.
The underlying technical platform supporting this operation is GeoSpace, a portal that provides powerful integrated data and metadata searches for textual and spatial data. The portal enables 70 agencies in Singapore to discover, share, and analyze more than 360 layers of geospatial data provided by 34 government departments. This data includes maps and other documents that define geographic locations or objects and their boundaries.
The Web-based application—which integrates with geographic information systems (GIS)—enables staff at these agencies to analyze population figures, types of terrain, and other land-related information to provide graphically richer and more comprehensive transport, health, and infrastructure services to the people of Singapore.
SLA developed GeoSpace using Oracle WebCenter Portal 11g to create the portal, harvest metadata, and provide a framework to enable online discussion forums over a real-time, map-based collaboration platform. Oracle WebLogic Server 11g is used as the application server.
Oracle SOA Suite 11g, Oracle Service Registry 11g, and Oracle Service Bus 11g, were used to register and provide SOA capabilities for geospatial services and modular applications programming interfaces (APIs), such as creating a system for registering and consuming map and geospatial processing services. This architecture, powered by Oracle Service Bus 11g, enabled the integration of heterogeneous services in a seamless manner, and offered standard features, such as reusability, governance, monitoring, auditing, and reporting of all data services and APIs.
GeoSpace is the first portal of its kind to provide one-stop search for spatial and nonspatial data. The portal is linked with the Singaporean government’s textual data repository—which mainly contains structured textual data, such as national statistics, survey results, and socio-economic information—using a customized Oracle Database and Google Search appliance to provide powerful geospatial and location search capabilities.
The portal could also enable officers from different Singapore government agencies to create online forums and discuss common issues using a map-based collaboration application. Further, it could offer online and offline data modeling capabilities that would enable government officers across the 70 agencies to generate different views of geospatial data, and integrate data, such as field photographs, textual information, satellite imagery, and sensory data, from other sources.
“GeoSpace plays a part in helping realize Singapore’s vision of an integrated government, by enabling agencies to share data, processes, and systems to deliver innovative services to the public,” added Ng.
SOA—created using Oracle solutions—provides government agencies with reusable GeoSpace data services, tools, and APIs to reduce the time and cost of delivering new services and applications, and it helps avoid duplicating tasks.
The geospatial cloud capability offered by GeoSpace helps government agencies avoid capital expenditure to establish a GIS infrastructure for building their own geospatial applications. They can consume geospatial data and application services directly from GeoSpace to rapidly develop internal systems with minimum cost and effort.
“Without GeoSpace, 70 government agencies would need to spend a total of US$9 million in application development costs and US$2.5 million in annual maintenance costs to enjoy the data sharing capabilities and benefits that this portal offers,” said Chan Chin Wai, CIO, Singapore Land Authority.
“We can make changes to applications 30% faster than previously, due to GeoSpace’s robust SOA framework. In addition, we have eliminated data duplication and reduced storage costs by around 60% (US$1.2 million) by implementing rules—such as a ‘data service format matrix’, which enables an automatic refresh and publication of data services according to preset rules to ensure information is only created once and can be used multiple times.”
SLA and other agencies have created several innovative applications using the GeoSpace system as a foundation. The OneMap portal, for example, enables citizens in Singapore to use maps to discover bus routes, find property prices by area, search for emergency services, and even identify the best areas for bird watching.
Another application from Singapore’s National Environmental Agency is helping Singapore fight dengue fever by disseminating near-real-time data on infection clusters.
“These applications not only help improve the productivity and efficiency of public officers, they offer insight and spatial analytics that enable them to make more informed decisions and better serve the people of Singapore,” said Ng.
GeoSpace makes it easy for agencies to share spatial data, such as maps, and nonspatial data—such as documents and images—by providing several customized, Web-based geocoding and data modeling tools. This helps reduce the cost of publishing and consuming data shared using GeoSpace.
Agencies also use integrated tools to prepare and package geospatial and textual data before sharing it with other agencies. In addition, information is always up-to-date because it is updated daily, rather than quarterly, as with the previous system.
The number of government departments providing spatial and nonspatial information online has jumped from 14 to 34 since the SLA introduced GeoSpace, an increase of 142%. GeoSpace has also encouraged 1,500 agency staff to use the portal, up from the 363 staff sharing information before the solution was deployed.
GeoSpace is an important part of the Singapore Government’s ‘iGov 2015’ plan to improve electronic service delivery to citizens. It also forms a major part of the foundation for Singapore’s National IT Master Plan, to improve all central IT services and applications managed by government.
“Government agencies have started building their own geospatial systems using GeoSpace’s APIs and Web services,” said Chan. “These include applications, such as a slope analyzer, time series analyzer, and site suitability analyzer.”
The SLA’s initial LandNet solution was the first geospatial system in the world to use Oracle Database with Real Application Clusters, which enabled the agency to deploy a single Oracle Database across pools of servers to provide protection from unplanned server outages.
As GeoSpace potentially needed to serve hundreds of data services and thousands of tools and API services used by several agency applications, adequate monitoring, faster service response, and high service availability were critical to its success. SLA decided to remain with Oracle technologies as it could see Oracle Service Bus 11g offered the reliable infrastructure it required.
The authority then chose Oracle WebLogic Server 11g as a stable application that can quickly adapt to and support potential changes in GeoSpace. It chose Oracle WebCenter 11g, as it was imperative that GeoSpace was highly integrated with the rest of the architectural components but still provided social-media–style collaboration and portal features, such as real-time, map-based communication, discussion forums, and document sharing.
SLA began the GeoSpace project in 2009. It completed the system design, development, and testing in December 2010 and successfully rolled out GeoSpace on April 1, 2011.
The implementation was completed on schedule and within budget.
SLA engaged Oracle Specialized Partner Mahindra Satyam to provide system integration, development, testing, maintenance, and operational services during the GeoSpace project.
SLA was happy with Mahindra Satyam’s services during the implementation, as the team met all the project’s needs and requirements. Mahindra Satyam continues to provide SLA with services for system enhancements, new applications, facility management, and helpdesk support and maintenance for GeoSpace.