"[With the mobility the ePlanner system brings,] planners are now able to access related information on a site through their iPads while engaging citizens," said Goh. By combining all types of external and internal information, planners will be able to make better informed decisions.
Having accurate data is important to URA planners. The datasets in the ePlanner system will thus be updated according to the nature of the data, said Goh. Some datasets, such as property transactions and development applications, will be updated in real-time while others will be refreshed periodically when data sources are updated.
Goh added that the URA will continually add useful datasets from internal and external sources to help planners meet today's planning challenges. For instance, the URA is collaborating with public and private agencies for social and transport information. By incorporating these information into the ePlanner system, planners can carry out more analytics. Another new initiative URA is implementing is Big Data spatial analytics.
New features for the ePlanner system that will enhance spatial analytics are currently under development. One such feature is the land use scoring application which allows planners to simulate a situation. "For example, the planners can use the app to create a simulation of it using the right available datasets (such as demographics). This allows them to see which parts of the area are in need of more schools," said Chan.
While the ePlanner system is currently available only for the URA, there are plans to share the technology with other government agencies that deal with land-use planning.
Another equivalent version of the ePlanner system that caters to members of the public, called the URA Maps, is available on the URA website. It contains information useful to members of the public and business owners such as the Master Plan 2008 with the various land use zoning and also the Change of Use e-advisor, which informs them if the use of a building can be changed (such as converting a commercial building to a service apartment) without requiring URA's approval. Developers too can use the URA map to identify conservation areas, view if an area has any special building height controls, and many more.
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