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Summer Internship at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in Singapore | Bryan Goh

Hey everyone! I’m Bryan! A year 2 undergraduate pursuing Urban Planning, Design and Management. This summer, I completed a 2-month internship at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) back home in Singapore.

URA is Singapore’s land use planning and conservation agency. Through various initiatives, URA is responsible for the myriad of successes Singapore is known for today. URA oversees and produces 2 big plans. This effort cuts across the whole government to ensure the holistic development of the plans. First, a statutory masterplan, reviewed every 5 years, which will guide Singapore’s development for the next 10-15 years. The latest Draft Masterplan was released earlier this year. Secondly, a concept plan, reviewed every 10 years, and every 5 years internally, which helps guide Singapore’s development for the next 40-50 years. The latest concept plan is due to be released early in the 2020s. Moreover, URA is also Singapore’s conservation agency, together with various stakeholders URA earmarks sites for conservation, ensuring that the physical character of Singapore is not forgotten.

URA Masterplan 2014

In URA, I interned at the Strategic Planning Group in both the Strategic Planning and Strategic Research departments. In both places, I did a variety of work and got exposed to how Singapore's public service plans for the future of Singapore and its people. During the short but meaningful course of 8 weeks, I managed to work on 2 interesting projects!

First, because of the upcoming Concept Plan, a review of previous methodologies had to be undertaken. I got to play around with data and statistical modelling. After multiple discussions with my colleagues, I was able to propose a new methodology to better predict jobs in certain sectors. This will allow Singapore to make more accurate and realistic predictions which helps feed into the transport modelling process which is a crucial part of transport planning.

Second, as part of the global movement on reducing the usage of cars and the rise of active mobility and personal mobility devices, my colleagues and I worked together to prepare an in-depth research study with public and private partners to support a whole-of-government approach to better prepare and future-proof Singapore’s infrastructural needs. Throughout my time, I also managed to attend meetings with global and regional leaders in providing ‘Mobility as a Service’, such as ‘Trafi’ and ‘Grab’.

Singapore Marina Bay Skyline

Planning in the UK and in Singapore are both very different. Singapore takes a more government-led approach while UK practices a more people-centric approach with consultation being a key part of the planning paradigm. Despite the differences, I can better appreciate the nuances of various planning systems and how they can be of benefit or be detrimental in various planning contexts.

During this short internship, I also managed to host, and attend events, conferences and seminars on the sidelines, together with site-visits, my attachment at URA allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of how Singapore plans with flexibility for its future. I am happy that I got a small glimpse into what makes Singapore the urban planning success it is known globally for today.

Meeting up with my URA Colleagues who were on a study trip in London!

- Bryan Goh



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