10 Aug 2022
Checklist for DSTA’s contributions to Singapore’s biggest bash:
Set up the infrastructure? ✔
Support the power needs? ✔
Create an audio extravaganza? ✔
Buy everything that’s needed? ✔
Ensure a safe visual feast of fireworks? ✔
Use tech to strengthen security? ✔
With this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) back as a full-scale physical event, our team of engineers and procurement specialists contributed in various aspects to create a successful and unforgettable experience for all Singaporeans.
Staging the show
As part of the Infrastructure and Decoration Committee, our engineers set up the stage infrastructure at the Floating Platform and its surroundings. From prep work to post-construction matters, the team contributed their expertise in civil and structural engineering to ensure the structures were delivered on time while meeting safety standards and show requirements.
The team installed a 30m high steel structure to support the main LED screen that measured an incredible 60m by 15m – the largest ever built for any NDP to date! They also integrated an automated system to raise a pair of giant wing displays on both sides of the stage, to complement the performance’s theme.
These features meant that there was a need for greater care to ensure adherence to safety standards, while still meeting the show’s requirements. Through the use of LIDAR scanners, the team conducted structural integrity checks on the stage infrastructure to make sure it was robust and safe.
Senior Engineer (Building and Infrastructure) Oh Kai Siang said: “I’m grateful to be part of a passionate team contributing to our nation’s birthday celebration this year. I was thrilled to see the excitement on everyone’s faces!”
Another critical component of NDP was power, as there was a large electrical need for elements such as stage automation, lightings, LED screens, fireworks, as well as sound and multimedia systems, among many others.
To support the power needs, our members from the Power and Support Committee installed a total of 27 generators across 14 locations, using close to 42km of cables – that’s almost as long as our Pan Island Expressway! Beyond ensuring reliable supply, the team also deployed a power and thermal monitoring system for real-time monitoring of the systems that enhanced their situational awareness and would enable a swift recovery in an event of power outage.
Principal Engineer (Building and Infrastructure) Glen Ong said: “It was exceptionally fun and meaningful for our team to be given the opportunity to band together and work closely, as we powered up this joyous celebration!”
Designing an aural fest
To create a spectacular audio extravaganza for everyone in the seating gallery, our members from the Public Address (PA) and Sound Committee deployed and managed more than 200 speakers and microphones across the Floating Platform. They also used a timecode system to provide accurate cues and synchronisation with the audio timeline for better coordination between the fireworks, lighting, stage automation, and multimedia elements for the best performance possible.
The committee also extended the PA and sound set-up to five heartland fireworks locations as part of the NDP celebrations. This effort was a challenge, as set-up requirements differed across the locations due to the varied sizes of the event spaces. The team had to study the spaces and conduct trials to work out customised configurations for each location, to provide fellow Singaporeans with a great audio experience.
Senior Principal Engineer (Advanced Systems) Law Teck Hiang shared: “I’m proud to have participated in this large-scale celebration for our nation. Seeing everyone enjoy the performance made all our hard work worth it.”
Shopping for the bash
From purchasing fireworks and engaging talents, to renting costumes and props, our team of procurement specialists spearheaded various procurement strategies for all parade essentials.
This year, the team maximised cost effectiveness by combining similar requirements to increase procurement efficiency and attain better rates from suppliers. This required the team to process tenders and establish multi-year period contracts for recurrent NDP requirements instead of putting up ad-hoc contracts year on year as it had been done in the past for most contracts.
Senior Procurement Manager (Procurement) Nicole Lim shared: “It has been very fulfilling to be part of the NDP Procurement Committee. The camaraderie and positive energy among the various teams while we all worked towards a common goal was very inspiring. The heartwarming experience will stay deep in my heart for years to come!”
Keeping the dazzle with added safety
As part of the Fireworks Committee, our engineers assessed and reviewed NDP’s fireworks safety considerations to ensure that they met international safety standards. For this, the team studied the characteristics of fireworks such as the hazard classification for transport and storage safety as well as their behaviours once fired, to ensure adequate safety distances.
The addition of a Total Defence Display segment to this year’s show, where pyrotechnics simulated bullet shots on performer’s jackets, meant new challenges. To ensure the performers’ safety, the team implemented additional safety precautions such as the use of fire-retardant clothing and safety goggles, and conducted several trials.
Senior Engineer (Systems Management) Ryan Toh shared: “I’m grateful for the opportunity to support NDP this year as a Firework Display Safety Engineer. It has provided me with an unforgettable learning experience as we overcame challenges in ensuring safety while meeting the show’s creative requirements.”
With the return of NDP as a fully physical event, technologists from our Land Systems Programme Centre and C3 Development Programme Centre deployed an advanced Command, Control, Communications, and Computers (C4) system to support the parade’s security operations.
The system tapped data and video sources from multiple agencies, as well as video feeds from unmanned systems. The team also took the opportunity to trial the use of video analytics algorithms tapping multiple cameras deployed at various locations, enabling quicker response for incident management.