Challenge: The Housing Development Board (HDB) in Singapore has been running surveys among communities to crowd-source for innovative tech-powered solutions to enhance the safety and vibrancy of the HDB estate. However, the development and implementation of these ideas has shown itself to be a challenge, as the hackathon format lends itself to weekend innovators who typically have no intention of carrying forward their project.
Insight: HDB would benefit from having an open innovation process that not only brings together a focused group of capable and committed innovators, but also enables them with appropriate prototyping resources to create high resolution Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) that could be tested rapidly with the public. Current hackathon formats and standard challenges usually do not have processes in place to incentivise participants or equip them with the resources to transform their ideas into a working prototypes, leading to a lack of tangible output at the end of the process. Additionally, ideas are also not typically put through testing at this stage leading to a lots of product-market fit issues. This is a gap we decided to fill.
In the first stage, we held an open call for ideas. In the the second stage, the teams with the most promising ideas were given a chance to create and test their ideas within a time frame of up to 3 months. The programme was designed with a Design Thinking approach to help participants create user centered solutions. To enable participants to empathize with HDB residents, a community mapping exercise was conducted in several public housing estates. Workshops were also conducted for participants in the areas of lean project management, rapid prototyping and performing user testing.
Participants were also supported in the 3 month development phase by mentors who had expertise in Internet of Things (IoT), Gamification methods and Geo-Spatial Mapping. Testing sessions were held for the participants to get direct user feedback, before they entered their iteration process to refine their product. We also brought in technology partners such as Microsoft and IBM to up-skill participants on their respective cloud platforms (Azure & Bluemix).
Finally, a pitching session was held for participants could pitch their high-resolution and tested solutions to HDB’s external partners who had commercial interest and/or access to follow-on funding. The entire process ensured that the participants were given all the support they needed to fully realize their ideas in a tangible form.
Result: The entire open innovation process produced stunning results. Participants proved their potential and showed success in using their technology skills to add value to the community. The resulting projects included an IoT-powered community gardening platform, Visualization of to-be-built HDB flats using Augmented Reality, and a mobile application to encourage the vibrancy of the neighbourhood. Out of all participating teams, 6 entered the final stage and from them, 4 groups were ‘adopted’ by external partners of HDB and given follow-on funding for their projects.