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Realising Change in Singapore Neighbourhoods

IDEO and Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) hosted an energetic Make-a-thon at our IDEO Singapore studio. Designers, architects and hackers, gathered to create and prototype concepts to motivate and support Singaporean communities.

Photo of Lindsey Zouein
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On the back of our Connecting Communities Challenge, IDEO and Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) hosted an energetic Make-a-thon at our IDEO Singapore studio. Fifty people – designers, architects, hackers, builders and brand specialists – gathered to create and prototype concepts to motivate and support Singaporean communities. Our Make-a-thon briefs stemmed from the online collaborations and concepts from the OpenIDEO challenge – and covered everything from finding ways to connect apartment residents to making dinnertime a place to address community issues. Some of our favourite concepts included:
Neighbourhood Watch 2.0: From Surveillance to Rethinking
How does a community go about reframing its public space? Team No. 1 prototyped a pose-capturing board for apartment void decks (open spaces at the bottom of Singaporean apartment blocks). Residents would approach a screen displaying four choices of poses. They would be encouraged to imitate one of the poses and their image would be projected on a screen, then made into a digital postcard which could be shared with neighbours.
Smart Bins
Team No. 2 looked at how to inspire people through city recycling data. They prototyped a Smart Bin to be set up in a hawker centre (community food court). Points-based recyclable items would be inserted into the bin and turned into vouchers at local retailers.
Cheeky Elevator Posters
Elevator behaviour usually involves staring at the wall in front of you. What if this was turned into time to connect and talk? Team No. 3 prototyped elevator interactions with posters that encouraged riders to stop looking at their phones and talk, including suggested conversation topics.
Block On
According to Team No. 4, we live in a ‘hi-bye’ generation – people might say hello and goodbye to one another but they don’t take time to learn about one another’s lives. To create more depth in neighbourly relations, they created Block On, a virtual platform which enables people to connect with each other within their apartment block.
There are many barriers to volunteering: time constraints, lack of convenient volunteer options, and difficulty finding information about causes. Team No. 5 prototyped the Neighbourgood App to address these challenges. It gives people the information and motivation needed to take the first step in volunteering by providing place, time, and activity in a location-based, time-aware interface that allows for planning and discovery on the fly.
So Food, So Good
Team No. 6 took to the streets – and the parks, and the public spaces – of Singapore to test out their prototype, a foam core dining table with conversational prompts around it. Lured in by free soft drinks and beer – walk-by diners were often heard saying, “We should do this more often!”
In addition to our amazing Make-a-thoners, we were also hosted the media. TODAY, a popular daily newspaper in Singapore, covered the Make-a-thon and the OpenIDEO challenge. This is especially exciting because it brings the collaborative conversations from both OpenIDEO and the Make-a-thon to a wider audience and hopefully gets Singaporeans talking about how they might play a part in connecting communities. Make-a-thoner Adib Jalal also covered the event and Farah Sidek blogged about it too.
Now it is up to you, the OpenIDEO community, to take action in your own communities! We’d love to hear how the Connecting Communities Challenge has inspired you to change the place you’re in. We’ll keep you updated with next steps in Singapore. We’re hoping to see some challenge-inspired concepts implemented in the near future. Cheers for coming on this odyssey with us.

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Join the conversation:

Photo of BenedictPerez

I think that the main obstacle for volunteering is first and foremost lack of volunteer options, which should be convenient. If people do not see conveniences like big numbers of centres where they can come up and give money, clothes or books, do you think they will travel to the end of the city to do that? The second point is lack of information. With the help of Neighbourgood App people will be well-informed about event, about time and place. If they are close to that place they will come and contribute to the volunteer organization.

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