Can the average Housing and Development Board (HDB) estate be transformed into a smart town? How can technology change the lives of residents living in these estates? The Smart HDB Town Framework answers these questions.
Designed by the HDB, the Smart HDB Town Framework spells out a five-pronged approach to develop smart towns for an improved and more sustainable standard of living:
1. Smart Planning
Computer simulation and data analytics are used to plan and design optimal, cost-effective urban design technologies in HDB towns.
2. Smart Environment
A network of sensors in estates allows HDB to capture real-time environment information, such as temperature and humidity, to create a more pleasant living environment for residents.
3. Smart Estate
Smart technologies are used to collect and analyse estate data to optimise maintenance cycles and pre-empt problems, ensuring that estates are well-maintained regularly.
4. Smart Living
HDB is looking into incorporating digital infrastructure in flats, paving the way for intelligent homes. Residents will soon be able to tap on smart home apps for anything from switching on their air-conditioners to turning off the lights.
5. Smart Community
Data analytics and other tech will be used to better understand and engage residents. These also foster community bonding and empower communities to take greater ownership in co-creating their living environments.
HDB Smart Hub
Think of the HDB Smart Hub as the “brain” managing all estate operations. It can collect and integrate multiple sources of information, such as real-time data on energy usage from common services in HDB estates. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?
The data provides insights that can help to improve estate management, town planning and building design. This makes it a valuable resource that can make a real difference to residents living in HDB estates.
The first phase of the Smart Hub at Yuhua in Jurong East has been implemented. The next phases are slated to launch at Teck Ghee in Ang Mo Kio (a brownfield site) as well as greenfield sites in Punggol and Tengah.
A look at how an estate is managed. (Image: Business Times, “The Brain Behind Estate Operations”, 9 Nov 2018)
As we transform our estates into Smart Towns, residents can also look forward to smart, sustainable initiatives that save energy and reduce their electricity bills.
Adding sensors and anticipatory software to lighting in common areas allows HDB to collect data on human movement patterns. Urban planners will then be able to optimise energy usage by reducing lighting in areas with little or no human traffic during specific times of the day.
Under this programme, HDB had progressively rolled out 220 MWp of solar panels across 5,500 HDB blocks in 2019, generating 350 MWp of solar power from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems alone.
This is equivalent to powering 82,500 4-room flats with solar energy, potentially reducing carbon emissions by 198,000 tonnes per year.
A new solar target of 540 MWp by 2030 has since been announced, and this could potentially help generate 648 GWh of green energy annually. It also puts us in line with the HDB Green Towns Programme, which aims to bring green energy to all HDB towns.
Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System
This automated waste collection system uses a vacuum-type underground pipe network to collect and transport household waste to a sealed container through underground pipes. Trucks periodically collect the waste for disposal. The benefits of this system include:
Reduced need for manual labour
A cleaner, more hygienic environment with less foul odour emitted from refuse chutes
Reduced need for washing of chutes
Reduced pest infestations
Reduced waste decomposition at housing estates
More recycling, as residents are encouraged to separate recyclable items from their household waste and dispose of them in recycling bins instead
Where are our Smart Towns and Homes?
Town planners, architects and engineers use smart planning tools and data analytics to analyse the wind flow, solar irradiance and shaded areas within Punggol Town. This allows them to better plan and design new flats with maximum thermal comfort for residents.
For instance, the amount of sunlight falling into homes and factoring in of shadows have been optimised for a cooler neighbourhood to live in.
Seafront living at Punggol Northshore. (Image: HDB)
Northshore Residences I & II
Completed in 2020, these are the first HDB flats equipped with smart distribution boards and smart sockets in every room to easily support smart home solutions. The smart distribution board replaces the conventional distribution board in HDB flats, enabling residents to monitor electricity usage across their household appliances.