The Hydroinformatics Institute (H2i) will undertake a two-year research and development project to create Virtual Water, a surface water simulation toolbox that can predict and simulate floods resulting from heavy rainfall events, in real-time. It will run atop Virtual Singapore, GovTech Singapore’s 3D model of the island-nation.

Using rich data sets that tap on H2i’s advanced modeling capabilities, we will create realistic and accurate run-off simulations atop Virtual Singapore’s integrated digital platform. Users will be able to simulate how water flows off surfaces and into drains, reservoirs, or the subsurface of Singapore’s urban environment. Virtual Water is projected to be 10,000 times faster than traditional simulation software, making results almost instantaneously available to the user.

Various climate scenarios, including extreme rainfall events, can be simulated, and water-management strategies and new approaches to urban design, tested and refined. These superfast and accurate simulations will allow issues like urban flooding to be better understood, and plans for adequate infrastructure to be conceived and tested.

When completed, Virtual Water will be an invaluable tool not just to operational water managers, but also to urban planners and engineers, especially as Singapore manages the impact of climate change and sea level rise, says H2i managing director Jair Smits. “It will herald a new era in the field of urban hydrology and flood management,” he said.

This research is supported by various government agencies including Singapore’s National Water Agency, PUB, HDB and JTC Corporation.