From 2015 to 2020, an average of about three million trips a day were made on Singapore’s rail transport network.
The massive data collected by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) allows Ms Chan Jie Yee, manager at the Asset Management (Data & Analytics), Rail Asset, Operations and Maintenance (RAOM) Group at LTA, to draw insights that answer key questions such as: What is the estimated remaining lifespan of the trains? Should LTA renew the railway systems or continue to maintain it? Is the equipment condition deteriorating and when might the next fault happen?
Through her work with data, the 31-year-old helps to provide smoother and more reliable rides for commuters while ensuring cost-effectiveness simultaneously.
“My work involves understanding and developing business use cases as well as the data models that aim to predict the health, lifespan and potential failures of the railway systems,” she explains.
“As these are multi-faceted issues, my team has to work with both internal and external domain experts in areas such as renewal planning. We also work with systems design specialists, data engineers, cyber security experts, software developers as well as colleagues in operations and maintenance.”
She acknowledges that it takes a huge amount of work to standardise and make sense of data with legacy architectures that were designed decades ago, but the problem-solver is undeterred.
“With the development of relevant analytics and models alongside the data aided by computing power we now have, we can produce new intelligence and insights for decision support to help in the maintenance and renewal of our railway systems,” she says.
“It is exciting to know that the development of such tools can help to transform the way we plan and implement our railway projects.”
GROWING HER DOSSIER OF KNOWLEDGE
As someone who has always been intrigued by transport systems and infrastructure, especially the driverless trains that “seemed to be orchestrated magically to run on their own”, Ms Chan jumped at the golden opportunity to pursue studies in her field of interest at the college of her dreams when she was offered the LTA Overseas Scholarship in 2009.
She obtained her Bachelor of Science with Honours in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the United States, and went on to achieve her Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, also in the US.
Even after she joined LTA in July 2013, her learning did not stop there. Pre-pandemic, she participated in overseas learning trips to Japan and South Korea where the team learnt about liveable cities as well as gained insights into their world-class rail systems.
Recently, she also attended a virtual management development course that covered key issues pertaining to governance, policy and leadership.
In her eight years with LTA (and still counting), Ms Chan has been rotated to various divisions.
Starting out in the Network Renewal (Systems) division, her team commissioned the signalling systems for the trains running on the automated, driverless North East and Circle Lines. This has helped to improve waiting times for commuters.
She then moved to the Signals division in 2017 where her team designed the signalling systems in the replacement trains for the North-South and East-West Lines as well as worked on the extension of tracks to improve waiting times.
The following year, as part of the Cross Border & Local Arrangements division, she had a hand in formulating long-term land transport strategies. She went back to the Network Renewal (Systems) division from January 2019 to April 2021, before her current stint with the RAOM Group.
“Although the job is hectic at times, it is rewarding to know that my everyday work plays a part in improving the lives of Singaporeans,” says Ms Chan.
“I knock off work every day knowing that I am one of the many pieces in the LTA jigsaw puzzle that connects people to places seamlessly and brings us home to our loved ones.”
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