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Mapping the future: She's using geospatial technology to better lives
By Goh Hwee Koon
Megan Ann Pang Singapore Land Authority Undergraduate Scholarship SPH Scholars Choice
Principal geospatial consultant Megan Ann Pang is passionate about creating data maps that can make a difference in people’s lives. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA/FRENCHESCAR LIM

This Singapore Land Authority scholar aims to raise awareness on how high-tech innovations can improve urban planning and resource allocation

Fast delivery of your food order is oftentimes taken for granted. But did you know that such convenient services are enabled by geospatial technology to assign the nearest driver to a pickup point and recommend the fastest delivery route?

A keen student of geospatial technology, Ms Megan Ann Pang, hopes to impact lives through helping people understand the power of spatial data. In 2017, the 24-year-old decided to take up the Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) Undergraduate (Overseas) Scholarship as the government agency is one of the first movers of Singapore’s national geospatial agenda. 

More on this topic: SLA consultant is tapping the potential of geographic data

Geography is not just about rocks

Ms Pang’s passion for geospatial technology stems from her interest in geography since secondary school and in economics later in junior college.

She was fascinated by the aspects of geography that go beyond the study of rocks and plate tectonics. The study of statistical and mathematical aspects of economics also helped her to appreciate and analyse data in geospatial work later. 

Her interest in geospatial studies grew during her three-year Bachelor of Science in Geography and Economics degree programme at the University College London (UCL) in Britain.

She was inspired by her professors who led research in the field and enjoyed learning to create maps with code. Since then, she has discovered there is much more to explore in this field.

In particular, she is interested in using geospatial technology to create state-of-the-art maps and run predictive analytics that help in planning and decision-making processes which affect people’s lives.

“Having layers of information that you can easily access and visualise readily – that’s the beauty of such a map,” she says. 

For instance, when it comes to placing flood protection measures in a certain area, vector data and the erosion rates of various shorelines across time can be analysed and studied. Other important information such as population density and other variables can also be layered on to determine how resources can be prioritised, she explains.

“This is an exciting position to be in – knowing that what I am doing is making an impact in the geospatial industry and learning how I can do that in my new role.”

Ms Megan Ann Pang
Recipient of the Singapore Land Authority Undergraduate (Overseas) Scholarship

Formerly principal executive in SLA’s Business Planning and Development department, she recently took on a new role as the principal geospatial consultant in the Geospatial and Data Division.

Ms Pang looks forward to helping others understand what geospatial data can do for them and playing a part in furthering its developments both locally and regionally. 

“This is an exciting position to be in – knowing that what I am doing is making an impact in the geospatial industry and learning how I can do that in my new role,” she adds.

Keeping up with further education

After graduating with first class honours and obtaining the Geography-Economics Prize for topping her UCL programme, Ms Pang considered pursuing a master’s degree related to geospatial sciences. But the plan was put on the back burner as she wanted to first gain some work experience at SLA.

Two years after she began serving her six-year scholarship bond, she decided to do a part-time Master of Science in Applied Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at the National University of Singapore.

GIS is a cutting-edge technology which lets you visualise data points on a map, layer more information on top of them and run spatial analytics. This tool can benefit different stakeholders – from governments to urban planners and businesses – by helping them to understand the environment so they can make more sustainable decisions and plan how best to allocate their resources.

“As GIS is very broad and its technologies are constantly developing, I wanted to learn more and keep up with the latest advancements. Being knowledgeable in this area will be helpful in my work,” she says.

Ms Pang is thankful that SLA was supportive of her pursuing her master’s degree while working full-time in the Geospatial and Data Division. 

“Whatever career decision or development that I have made, it was always done in tandem with the organisation,” she says. “The process is two-way to allow for a better ‘matchmaking’ (of expectations) between us.”

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