Going online to check out the hidden gems in some HDB towns is a big hit, so much so that the Housing Board has taken steps to let people go on a virtual visit of every town to uncover each one’s pride and joy.

Currently, only 10 of the 24 HDB towns have their Heartland Spots mapped out.

By next March, HDB hopes to have in hand the estimated 260 virtual main attractions of the remaining towns that it plans to add to its online HDB Map Services.

Heartland Spots is “a frequent go-to resource platform”, HDB said last Friday.

“Given the positive reception, HDB will expand the coverage of Heartland Spots to provide virtual tours for all the remaining HDB towns,” it added in its statement.

HDB had called a tender for the production of virtual tours of an estimated 260 heartland spaces, such as historical sites, murals, thematic playgrounds and shopping complexes.

The tender exercise closed yesterday and the virtual tours are to be delivered to HDB by March 31 next year, said the tender document.

Besides Heartland Spots, HDB Map Services provide information on a town, including resale flat prices, carpark rates, and locations of public places such as community centres and sports facilities.

At present, the 10 towns with “virtual tours” are Pasir Ris, Punggol, Queenstown, Bedok, Hougang, Jurong East, Toa Payoh, Woodlands, Yishun and Tampines.

These tours, however, show just the exterior or external facade of the prized spots in each HDB town. For example, a user can see only the exterior of a shopping complex.

Heartland Spots was introduced in 2018 “to feature interesting and noteworthy places in selected HDB towns”, said the board.

The move was made to support the Remaking Our Heartland programme to renew and further develop HDB towns and estates to meet the changing needs of the community, it added.

The programme was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2007.

Since then, 13 towns and estates have been identified for renewal.

Heartland Spots are places “where the residents would most identify with and go to”, said HDB.

It also said “the community has been actively involved in the curation and selection of the places to be featured”.

HDB’s tender document did not identify the places but gave a “tentative” list of towns where the spaces are located.

They are Sengkang, Geylang, Bukit Panjang, Kallang, Whampoa, Bukit Batok, Clementi, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong West, Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Serangoon, Bishan and Sembawang.

The tender document also said that both online and offline versions of the virtual tours will be produced, with the offline version allowing users to access the tours through tablets without requiring an Internet connection.

The virtual tours will also be showcased on a touch-screen TV or tablet during HDB events.

Originally published in The Straits Times.