UB Singapore students win geospatial competition with food waste research

Image of three individuals standing next to one another, smiling at the camera.

Team Jograph-Vi: (From left to right) Viknavel Krishnan, Joseph Yuet Chin Cheng and Jeng Siang Seem. Photo: Ryan Cho

Tom Dinki, originally published in UBNow

Published March 21, 2024



Image of a man with glasses wearing a white shirt, smiling at the camera.
“UB SIM continually attracts a diverse group of excellent students who really enjoy project-based, hands-on learning with geospatial technology."
Adam Grodek, PhD Student and Program Instructor

UB students in Singapore mapping food waste across the island nation have earned the top prize in an international geospatial science competition. 

The team received the distinction award in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) 2024 Geospatial Challenge. The announcement of the team’s first-place win came at the Geo Connect Asia conference held earlier this month in Singapore. 

First-year students Viknavel Krishnan, Joseph Yuet Chin Cheng and Jeng Siang Seem are all enrolled in UB’s geographic information science (GIS) program at Singapore Institute of Management. The two-decade partnership between UB and the institute, known as UB SIM, offers seven total majors and nine minors.

“UB SIM continually attracts a diverse group of excellent students who really enjoy project-based, hands-on learning with geospatial technology,” says Adam Grodek, PhD student and program instructor at UB SIM. “Viknavel, Joseph and Jeng are three hard-working students who spent much time conducting research, gathering and analyzing data, asking questions and preparing a professional poster to resolve a research question of much interest to them. They are very deserving of this award.”

 The ASEAN Geospatial Challenge calls on students across ASEAN countries to use geospatial technology and information to help their country achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. On average, each person wastes 120 kilograms of food a year, according to the U.N. 

The UB SIM students, named Team Jograph-Vi, sought to analyze and predict food wastage patterns in Singapore by using advanced geospatial technologies, statistical regression and spatial interpolation. 

Utilizing available data sources like business registries and leveraging state-of-the-art geospatial technology like ArcGIS Pro, they employed a weighted-point analysis to map the spatial distribution of food waste across Singapore. These refined estimates then formed the basis for pilot studies aimed at gathering both quantitative and qualitative data. 

“By integrating geospatial technology with statistical tools, we pinpointed areas with high wastage rates and predicted food wastage trends,” Seem says. “Our goal was to provide valuable insights for stakeholders in the food industry, hopefully influencing them to reduce food waste and promote sustainability.”

They first had to compete at the national level against other students from Singapore universities, presenting to Singapore-level judges in early January. They finished second overall and were invited to present to the ASEAN-level judges in late January. Competing against teams from across the 10 ASEAN countries, they were chosen first overall. 

“We are both proud and amazed to win the distinction award, given the fierce competition, especially from other universities in Singapore. As first-year students, the recognition was particularly unexpected,” Cheng says.

“It was a great opportunity to use what we learned in the classroom to contribute meaningful solutions to real-world problems, alongside the chance to showcase our innovative approach on a prestigious international platform,” Krishnan adds.

Separately, another UB SIM team also competed in the competition. Team uWuLB — consisting of Yan Lu Patrina Yu, Qiong Yi Poh, Ng Kim Leng Synn and Muhammad Shahir Bin Mazlinan — was invited to share its work-life balance research with the Singapore-level judges.

 This was the first time that UB SIM students have won the Geospatial Challenge. They have competed every year since the GIS program’s inception in 2020. The program graduated its first class last year and currently has an enrollment of about 30.

“The program encourages students to demonstrate how GIS technology can solve real-world problems, while also supporting them to participate in conferences and competitions,” says Le Wang, professor in the UB Department of Geography, who teaches courses at UB SIM.


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