Left: Janice Teo Yong Qi processes the sale of land to Statutory Boards for their infrastructural use in her role as Principal Executive, Land Sale (Public). She is a recipient of the SLA Local Undergraduate Scholarship, and she holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Social Sciences from NUS.
Right: Jonathan Siow Bao Sheng advocates geospatial applications in his role as Principal GeoSpatial Consultant. He is a recipient of the SLA Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
We often tell friends from overseas, “It only takes an hour or so to drive from one end of the country to the other!” Indeed, Singapore is not a very big country and land is a very scarce and valuable resource. This is why, a lot of planning and vigilance is required to make the best use of Singapore’s land. To do this, we have the Singapore Land Authority (SLA). The SLA is a statutory board under the Ministry of Law. Their mandate is to optimise land use for the social and economic development of Singapore. SLA officers such as Jonathan Siow Bao Sheng, and Janice Teo Yong Qi work judiciously in their respective roles to create and enhance value for State properties and assets. In the process, they improve the quality of lives of people in Singapore. The duo, both SLA Undergraduate Scholarship recipients, gave us a glimpse of what it is like to be working in one of Singapore’s most important agencies.
You may have accessed the OneMap application to check out cycling routes or the arrival times of a bus at a particular bus stop. Chances are, Jonathan and his colleagues would have a part in to play in developing those features. The scholar currently works as the Principal GeoSpatial Consultant at SLA.
“At SLA’s GeoSpatial & Data Division, we spearhead the development and adoption of geospatial, or location-based, information and technology to contribute to Singapore’s Smart Nation and sustainability agendas,” he explained.
“I lead strategic and workforce planning to coordinate the use of geospatial data, platforms, services, and people capabilities across the public service, as well as geospatial initiatives to build geospatial awareness and agencies’ business processes.”
The SLA Overseas Undergraduate scholar started deep diving into this discipline even before starting work proper with his organisation. Prior to heading to the United Kingdom to study Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science, he interned at the division where he is currently working at, and realised how pervasive geospatial applications are.
“We often subconsciously use geospatial without realising that it is geospatial,” he quipped. “We use it to receive real-time supply and demand data for ride-hailing, route optimisation and fleet management for logistics and food deliveries and even property search and valuation.”
Upon graduation, Jonathan continued where he left off. One of his biggest achievements at SLA so far is leading a team to organise the ASEAN Geospatial Challenge. The event brought students together from across the region to use geospatial for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as mitigating the effects of climate change and improving the accessibility of essential services.
“The Challenge has received more than 50 entries, and was supported by large industry partners such as Autodesk, Amazon Web Services, and Grab. I’ve also organised the Informal Meeting of ASEAN Geospatial Agencies, where senior leaders of geospatial agencies came together to share their views and ideas on geospatial for ASEAN Smart Cities, and discussed areas for increased regional collaboration.”
Jonathan is grateful for the opportunities at SLA, and he is proud to be able to contribute to his organisation’s objectives. He looks forward to meeting more like-minded colleagues at SLA in the near future.
“Join us at SLA, where the nature of work is dynamic, ensuring diverse and complex work responsibilities,” he encouraged. “You get to see the direct impact of your work in the ‘bigger picture’, such as the application of geospatial data and technology for Singapore’s urban planning, resource allocation and pandemic management.”
Agent for Change
All it took was a seed. Janice was in junior college when she was working on a research project that required her to use data to determine the most optimal use of State land. The project got her to think critically about the use of land and the built environment, and how they can affect people in more ways than one.
“I was interested to see how the built environment interacts with the existing social networks, and vice versa. I learnt that this symbiotic relationship is important in ensuring marginalised groups are able to have dignity in life,” she said, on what motivated her to explore a career with SLA.
Janice elaborated, “SLA stands at the confluence of both policy and operations in the use of land in Singapore. While I am involved in policy planning for the future and thinking about how to ensure land use is optimized, I’m also able to work alongside the private sector players to effect these changes.”
With that, she took on the SLA Local Undergraduate Scholarship and pursued Law as well as Economics at the National University of Singapore. Her academic training bodes well for her ensuing role at SLA upon graduation.
“At SLA, I’m able to apply the rigour of legal training to the various policy papers we have to write to seek support for the position we are proposing with regard to the most efficient action to undertake for the use of land. As my department is currently drafting and reviewing the subsidiary legislation for the Land Betterment Charge Act, legal training has helped me to better explain technical terms to my colleagues. My economics background allows me to study data and quantitative concepts quickly,” explained Janice.
Aside from fine-tuning legislation and studying data, Janice’s main role is to process the sale of State land to Statutory Boards that need land for their infrastructural projects. She also represents SLA at Ministry-level discussions on current business practices and she is responsible for keeping SLA’s practices updated and well-adjusted to the changing times.
For sure Janice has a multi-faceted role at SLA, which has kept her engaged and motivated.
She enthused, “The work culture at SLA is vibrant, and I am honoured to be working to effect the changes that I grew up dreaming about as a child. I hope to continue to influence Singapore’s social fabric through thoughtful and meaningful decisions about its built environment.”