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SgNal - an app to involve Singaporeans

SgNal { ˈsignəl| } is a mobile app to engage citizens (and visitors) of Singapore with the city. It asks people to signal opportunities for improvement and interact with vacant lots and buildings.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

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SgNal { ˈsignəl| } is a mobile app to engage citizens (and visitors) of Singapore with the city. It asks people to signal opportunities for improvement and interact with vacant lots and buildings or places that are reserved for a ‘chosen by the crowd’ function.

#SgNal[this] posters with the request to interact (qr-code)

On vacant lots, abandoned buildings or any other place that is slated for repurposing, a poster can be pasted that asks the people to share their wish for what it should be. If they have the app, they can scan a QR-code on the poster, and add in the app their wish. There will be also the option to share it on their social networks.

For those who don’t have the app (and don’t want it) there’s a second option: to send a text message to a dedicated number, including a specific site code for the site, and their wish.

The use of hash tags can help in letting people use other apps they have on their mobile phones, and share a picture of the site and their wish. The hash tag will ensure it gets picked up by the National Environment Agency, even if the picture is shared via Instagram, for example.

Location based - gps location

The app also will have the option to pinpoint a location using GPS. A photo of a site that is not in any plans yet, but that is vacant or underutilized can be shared through the app, with the wish of what it should be. Because of the GPS, it’s easy to understand where this site is. Many reports on a specific site give a clear signal that something should be done there.

Report a ‘bug’

Potholes, damages, garbage, vandalism, or any other inconvenience in the city, in software terms: a bug, can also be reported through the app. As is done in other places in the world already, this can help the Singapore governments to understand where maintenance or work is needed, and how to prioritise work.

Organise a 'fix'

This function of the app will enable people to organise a fix themselves. It's a meetup-meets-cleanup function. People can initiate the clean up of a certain place, by scheduling an event and inviting others to join in.

Update: this function could also be used to take action in repurposing. For example: if someone sees a vacant place and thinks 'hey, I wish this was a chess-play area'. Then, she'd use the app to share that wish, and also to invite friends for a game at that place. Not only stating her wish, but taking action to make it reality. 
If her initiative is successful, it would be a good sign that the place in question is indeed ideal for a chess-play area. (Inspired by Johan's comment)

Update: In addition, as suggested by Klementyna, there will also be the option to initiate realisation of a wish directly. A game of chess can be easy, but let's say that someone wants a place to be a co-working space, they can directly say that they will start and manage it.

Share your inspiration

The SgNal app will also have a ‘free text’ share-your-idea option. Very similar to the inspiration phase on OpenIDEO: people can share their ideas or inspiration for Singapore, preferably using images etcetera. Maybe they come across something very cool while traveling abroad, that is not yet available in Singapore, and like to share that.

How does your concept inspire collaboration between individuals, private sector organisations, and the government in an effort to create cleaner neighbourhoods?

Vacant lots and buildings attract garbage, vandalism etcetera. Also, they can give a neighbourhood a bad image. This app will help make an inventarisation of which of the vacant spaces are most annoying to Singaporeans. Also, the report-a-bug function helps to find places and things that need to be cleaned up. And with the 'Organise a fix' function, people can organise action themselves.

How might your concept be scaled in a way that creates even more connections between people?

By using existing connections to social networks, and creating a social networking function in the app, people can connect their surroundings with their friends. Through the invitation to act by using the posters on buildings, the complete program will help make a connection with the Singapore environment through interacting with it. Also, the 'Organise a fix' function is aimed at bringing people together.

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

The experiment would use platforms that already exist. I would start with setting up 'accounts' on websites like meetup (for the Organise a fix function), twitter, instagram and tumblr. I would make a few posters that ask people to share their 'I wish this was' ideas through Twitter and Instagram, and curate these on a Tumblr website. In collaboration with some local hotspots (like the Pigeon Hole Cafe, or community centers), I would organise a few meetups to fix an issue. Of course, with reporting back to people. If that catches on, I would start with building (or more precise: invite students to build) a first version of the mobile app.


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Photo of Colin Willox

Made me think of this!

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