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Plans underway to mirror 2010 Youth Olympics in virtual Singapore

Adrian Bott

You've never been to Singapore? Just point and click.

Singapore's Media Development Authority have announced plans for a 3D interactive online version of their city, dubbed Co-Space. There's no shortage of interest from potential developers; fifty firms have come forward in answer to the MDA's call for proposals. Although the amount set aside to fund the project hasn't been made public, interactive and digital media are considered 'strategic' to Singapore, with a overall backing of $500 million.

A focus on moment-by-moment updates and links to the real world appears to be prominent, with the MDA offering to cover 50% of the costs of installing cameras or sensors to record material for online use. Michael Yap, MDA deputy chief executive, has likened the virtual city to a hybrid of Google Maps and Second Life. There also appears to be an emphasis on socialising and networking. Mr. Terence Mak of Amazing Worlds, one of the contenders involved in the bidding to work on Co-Space expects that everyone will have an avatar in the future; could Co-Space take over as the predominant means of meeting new people?

Mr. Yap has mentioned the 2010 Youth Olympics as a possible showcase for the project, which again emphasises the role of live updates and feeds. Live streaming video of the events might, for example, be fed through to observers in a Co-Space virtual stadium.

It remains to be seen how much fantasy we'll be able to bring to the virtual Singapore. A fusion of sensor-fed realism with participant-created avatars could be a heady one, leading to a virtual space that is not only a mirror of reality but effectively an alternate version. With the emphasis so far on realism, we're keen to see how much of a part escapism will eventually play.

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