On the High Road: Improving our Daily Commute with Engineering and Technology
Imagine being in charge of the efficiency of Singapore’s road networks… Well, Phua Jing Tian does just that, in real-time, 24/7.
They are the vital arteries that move our nation. Countless nooks and crannies all over Singapore are connected to our road network that is over 9,000km long. With roads and expressways occupying a hefty 12 per cent of Singapore’s total land area, it is essential that our roads are planned carefully and managed efficiently.
Enter LTA’s i-Transport - an all-in-one back-end system that aggregates real-time information from their suite of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) (which includes systems such as the Expressway Monitoring Advisory Systems to TrafficScan). The system enables traffic analysis and planning, as well as traffic monitoring and incident management. No wonder this invaluable brain is used by the Operation Control Centre on a 24-hour basis.
As an Executive Engineer at LTA, Jing Tian keeps this software on the knife-edge of innovation. He manages the progress and development of the upgrade to the i-Transport system, where he spearheads the testing of all road system interfaces, applications, and the graphical user interface used by LTA’s Operation Command Centre operators.
Using Technology to Pave Better Roads for Citizens
“Regardless of whether we work, play, or simply live our lives, commuting will always be an essential part of our day-to-day activities. By leveraging technology to enhance point-to-point transportation and upkeeping safety on roads, I can improve the quality of life,” Jing Tian says.
Singapore has an expansive network of expressways spanning over 160km, with road tunnels, sensors, and cameras situated throughout the network. These tech elements are like the sentinels on the ground, put in place to gather data on traffic flow and road demand, in order to supply users with useful and updated information for travel.
With the upgrades to the i-Transport system, LTA will be able to make use of real-time traffic data and historical trends to detect and response to road incidents more quickly and more effectively manage traffic operations. For the upgrades, Jing Tian incorporated artificial intelligence, big-data analytics, real-time traffic prediction and simulation for proactive and real-time traffic/incident operation and management.
While developing systems, Jing Tian uses data analytics and visualisation to process and display the massive amount of data processed by i-Transport. This creates a way for users to identify trends, evaluate effectiveness in certain deployments, and help make informed decisions.
He is also involved in the planning of tunnel closures while minimising impact to road users and stakeholders, testing of tunnel equipment and leading the Video Analytics System to generate more meaningful traffic data from road surveillance cameras.
But even in this world of tech, people skills are a must to keep improvements flowing. Jing Tian also conducts workshops to gather feedback from stakeholders, discuss and analyse issues faced, before piping these back to improve the existing systems and work processes.
In the Driver’s Seat of a Fast-moving Career
Having been with LTA for almost five years, Jing Tian has found his journey deeply enriching. “Working here has certainly broadened my horizons in the technical aspect of engineering, project management, and people management,” he shares.
“During my course of work, I was privileged to be part of the Operation Control Centre renovation team. It was fulfilling to see the operators comfortably using their new consoles and video wall and our efforts coming to fruition,” he adds.
Jing Tian says there are many opportunities to learn and excel, if one keeps an open mind and a keenness to learn. “To me, your career is just another learning journey. My passion, motivation, and willingness to learn allow me to make a positive impact on the lives of others,” he continues.
Is there one piece of advice he has for engineering students that are looking for career guidance? Not surprisingly, Jing Tian employs a travel metaphor: “I was once told that a career is another form of learning journey. Having the passion and the right motivation in your career will add immense value to ourselves and the organisation, all while creating a positive impact to the lives of others.”
[SOURCES] Interview with Phua Jing Tian