Leveraging smart mapping technology to ensure global food security

A student from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has bagged the 2016 Esri Young Scholar Award for his innovative use of Geographic Information System.

By Adrian M. Reodique
June 21, 2016


A student from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has bagged the 2016 Esri Young Scholar Award for his innovative use of Geographic Information System or smart mapping technology.

Yan Yingwei - a final year PhD student from the Department of Geography at NUS - has leveraged the smart mapping technology to look through the impact of climate change on invasive crops pests. He used a volunteered geographic information - which is a form of user-generated content - to analyse any pest invasion risks.

His project titled "Investigating potential distributional changes of invasive crop pest species associated with global climate change using GIS" aims to mitigate the negative impact of pests on agriculture and to develop solutions to ensure global food security.

"I was inspired by the size of cities like Singapore and Hong Kong, and the need for us secure food supply without the natural resources that other countries have. As the human population increases, so will the problem of the global food supply. This is why it is imperative for us to take measures to ensure that this is not compromised," said Yan in a press statement.

"For countries that are highly dependent on food imports such as Singapore, there is a need for us to focus on strengthening our relationships with countries that are predicted to have higher pest species richness and turnover rates. This is because these countries may curtail their exports, as they may be pressured to protect their own food security in light of more serious pest problems in the future," added Yan.

In addition, the project provides insights with the movement of the pests which could potentially enable agricultural planners, government agencies, policy and decision-makers to easily identify areas that will need more attention to control invasive crop pests.

Yan concluded on his project that regions with lower temperature or precipitation levels will host more pest species and with climate change they will likely migrate to areas in the north which has cooler climates for optimum survival.

A global representation of pest species richness with climate change. Areas in red represent an increase in species richness, while blue represents a decrease in species richness. 

He noted that in Asia, regions of North China, North India, Thailand, and Russia will be affected by future pest invasion the most and will face an increasing pest population and turnovers.


A global representation of pest species turnovers with climate change. Areas in red represent high species turnover, while yellow represents low species turnover. 

Meanwhile, Yan will attend and present his project at the Esri User Conference (Esri UC) in San Diego, California, to more than 15,000 spatial professionals from over 140 countries.

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