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SLA consultant is tapping the potential of geographic data

By August Carlos

For fresh graduate Jonathan Siow, joining Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) Geospatial and Data Division last July during a pandemic could not have been more exciting.

As a geospatial consultant in SLA, Mr Siow, 24, is part of the team that uses geospatial, or location-based, information and technology to push Singapore’s Smart Nation drive in the public and private sectors.

The application of geospatial data and technology has become more crucial than ever in recent times. It is essential to the nation’s pandemic management, analysis and safe transition, and has led to the development of geospatial solutions like crowd management applications that inform the public on crowd levels and people movement patterns in parks and shopping centres.

Mr Siow says: “It’s exciting to work in geospatial, which has been rapidly gaining prevalence across many domains. The nature of work is dynamic, ensuring diverse and complex work responsibilities. You get to see the direct impact of your work within and beyond your organisation.”


Heeding the call 

Mr Siow found himself in his role because of his SLA Undergraduate Scholarship. He studied overseas and graduated in mid-2020 from the London School of Economics and Political Science, with a bachelor’s degree in management. 

He recognises that his priorities, both professional and personal, are aligned with SLA’s. He says: “Walking down a street in Singapore, you see that real estate is everywhere – part and parcel of everyday life. 

“In a land-constrained nation like Singapore, SLA’s responsibilities are crucial to optimise state land and curate land policy for our continued socio-economic development.”

The scholarship played a pivotal role in helping him to achieve his goals: It fully covered his tuition fees and living expenses in London. Also, knowing that he will be working in SLA after graduation helped to guide his module selection and choice of internships.


Purpose-driven role

Mr Siow joined SLA in the middle of the pandemic and has been working from home ever since. He counts himself lucky to have colleagues who “have helped tremendously with my induction and initial learning journey”.

Although he is only just starting at his job, Mr Siow already sees the impact of the SLA scholarship on his career. 

“It opens many doors and opportunities,” he says. 

His advice to students planning to apply for a scholarship? 

“Before applying, have a clear sense of the organisation’s overarching mission and day-to-day responsibilities,  and how it falls into Singapore’s complex public sector ecosystem. This will help you gauge whether you can envision yourself working there in the future.”

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