Did you know that simulations of lift traffic are done to determine the number of lifts installed at each lift lobby? Housing & Development Board (HDB) Undergraduate Scholar Wong Hong Yi explains how HDB makes use of Big Data Analytics and Data Science to improve the living environment for our residents.
As Singapore’s public housing authority, HDB has made
it its mission to redefine public housing to improve the
lives of Singaporeans. The ones who work to transform
this mission into reality are part of a team of diverse, talented
and dedicated staff who are united in HDB’s vision of creating
world-class homes for Singaporeans. While HDB’s building
research specialists drive R&D efforts towards ground-breaking
technologies and sustainable building solutions, its estate
management professionals roll out new policies and review
existing ones to benefit broader segments of society. The
planners, engineers and architects, on the other hand, continue to
revitalise our older estates and towns through a host of renewal
and upgrading programmes and develop new estates to meet the
growing demands of our population.
We speak to Hong Yi, 26, an HDB Undergraduate Scholar and
Senior engineer, to find out more about his job and how he plays
a part in shaping the future of public housing.
What motivated you to take up the HDB Undergraduate Scholarship?
Wong Hong Yi: Mathematics and physics have always
intrigued me while I was in school. Coupled with my interest in
experimentation and devising solutions, an education and career
in engineering was a natural path for me to take. As a student
fresh out of JC then, I was looking out for an opportunity to
pursue my interest in engineering at a reputable college. The HDB
Scholarship offered me just that. Besides, where else can you get
to personally shape the future of public housing?
How have you grown during your
HDB scholarship journey?
Hong Yi: I was able to get the most out of
my university education with HDB’s support.
One way that HDB guides its scholars' personal
and professional development is through its
mentorship programme. It is always helpful to
have someone in the trade provide you with
advice, especially when HDB takes the effort to
match each scholar with a mentor who has a
similar educational background.
Wong Hong Yi
HDB Undergraduate Scholar
Building Safety & Resources Department,
Building & Infrastructure Group
Master of Engineering (Systems Engineering),
Cornell University, US
Bachelor of Engineering
(Electrical and Electronic Engineering),
Imperial College London, UK
Length of Service:
After my first year of studies at Imperial
College in the UK, I returned to HDB for my
vacation attachment and spent 10 weeks with
my current department (the Building & Safety
Resources Department). It was eye-opening
looking at what goes on behind the scenes.
I also experienced HDB’s culture first-hand
through the induction and dialogue sessions
organised for us. The early exposure to work at
HDB helped me adapt quickly to the environment
My subsequent years of study were also spent
learning about a multitude of subject matters
in diverse settings. Under HDB’s sponsorship, I
had the opportunity to participate in a summer
exchange programme to Fudan University
during the summer break of my second year of
studies at Imperial College. During my time in
China, I learnt much about the Chinese way of
life and business conduct and was sponsored
to attend the Green Building Conference in
San Francisco. The following year, I relocated
from London to the US to pursue my Master’s
degree at another renowned school – Cornell
University. These opportunities have provided
me with a breadth of experience, as well as a
depth of knowledge.
Tell us more about your
current role and your various
Hong Yi: My work in the Building
Safety & Resources Department involves
providing professional advice and technical
management services for lifts and electrical and
telecommunication services nationwide.
Being a relatively new staff, I felt privileged to
be selected to represent HDB for an inter-agency
study aimed at improving telecommunication
reception in new HDB estates. I was also the
overall lead for a study exploring alternatives to
the current methodology used for lift provision.
At the end of the study, we adopted a better
approach that made use of the Monte-Carlo
simulation, a computerised mathematical
technique, to analyse complex lift traffic. We are
refining this new methodology for large-scale
implementation in our new estates.
Why are these services important
for HDB residents and how is HDB
looking to optimise them?
Hong Yi: Lifts are essential for mobility in
our HDB estates, given the increasing number
of high-rise dwellings. The same goes for
telecommunication services, especially when
you consider the high market penetration of
mobile internet services in Singapore.
"...the world is full of opportunities. Take the time to find out what you really want to do and why you want to do it. For me, I was looking to make an impact on the lives of our population"
As HDB’s newly-designed buildings get
taller and more sophisticated, the current
methodology used for lift provision may not
be as accurate and representative – hence
our use of the Monte-Carlo simulation. More
lifts will need to be provided in the estates to
cater for the higher traffic for each building, and
these lift systems must be robust to withstand
considerable stresses as they continually carry
residents from floor to floor.
We have thus looked to Data Science and
Big Data Analytics to collate and analyse our
environmental data and predict future trends
in order to make informed decisions. We also
conduct ground reviews and continually make
improvements so that our residents can look
forward to more efficient lifts and enhanced
telecommunication reception in their homes.
What advice do you have for
aspiring HDB Undergraduate
Hong Yi: The scholarship selection process
is challenging. For those of you who aspire to
become HDB Scholars, it would be useful to
stay updated on current affairs, especially with
regard to housing issues – I cannot stress this
enough. Also, be sure to form good, educated
opinions and be prepared to share and explain
your viewpoints on current topics during the
Most importantly, do remember that the
world is full of opportunities. Take the time to
find out what you really want to do and why you
want to do it. For me, I was looking to make an
impact on the lives of our population and have
a personal stake in defining our skyline. If you
share my passion, the HDB Scholarship is the
choice for you!