Connecting citizens and fostering neighborly ties
Connecting citizens and fostering
BACKGROUND: Project done as Community Manager at Padang & Co.
OVERVIEW: Helping Singapore's Housing Development Board (HDB) crowdsource ideas for building stronger neighborly ties amongst residents through a weekend-long hackathon.
TEAM: Padang & Co team, myself included.
MY ROLE: Project management, marketing, facilitation during hackathon.
The Housing Development Board (HDB) is in charge of public housing in Singapore. Given that around 80% of the population live in HDB flats, this branch of the government plays a very important role in daily lives of thousands of Singaporeans.
HDB wanted to explore new ways to leverage technology to foster a greater sense of community amongst its residents. They approached us to help them adopt open innovation practices to crowdsourcing ideas, gain insights into the community's needs and bring diverse stakeholders together.
Conditions For Co-Creation
In response to the brief, we organized a weekend-long hackathon that brought together the following key elements:
The hackathon brought together people from various backgrounds, such as experts in urban design, community development, technologists, designers, etc.
Leading up to the hackathon, we organized a series of capacity building workshops to get participants familiar with the themes and challenge statements, introduce design thinking techniques for ideation and expose them to some tools and technologies available to them.
The challenges we put out for participants were: 1) Fostering neighborly ties amongst HDB residents; 2) Connecting residents to relevant information; 3) Cultivating environmentally friendly practices in neighborhoods.
MENTORSHIP & FACILITATION
During the the hackathon we brought in experts in technology, behavior change, and environmental practices as well as decision-makers from HDB to provide mentorship to teams as they developed their ideas.
Outcomes & Insights
Ideas ranged from location-based social networks to chatbots for parent support groups to voice assistants in public spaces for residents to receive information.
FIND THE NODES
There are many people that genuinely want to contribute to their neighborhoods and who are already doing so (e.g. grassroots leaders). These passionate citizens can be used as entry points to help start and scale initiatives.
MEET USERS WHERE THEY ARE
New services should ideally try to integrate into existing tools and platforms that are already used by residents for higher adoption. Also key, is looking at the existing habits of residents, such as where do they gather, the public spaces they walk through, etc.
FOSTER BONDS BASED ON INTERESTS
Bringing together people purely based on proximity may work sometimes, but gathering people based on mutual interests often gives people a far more compelling reason to interact.
CREATE VALUE EXCHANGES
The sharing economy ideals on a neighborhood level creates interesting opportunities for meaningful value exchanges amongst neighbors–time banking, carpooling, skills-sharing, etc. They can serve as starting points for fostering social interactions between residents.