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Syinc Blog

Here we muse about creativity & innovation, and document (some of) the work we're doing about it in Singapore.

UP Singapore, Part 1 (2012)

Bernise Ang

Back in June 2012, the fabulous folks at Newton Circus did a pilot of what has become a very interesting social innovation event series in Singapore: UP Singapore. We were involved as mentors, and also gave a presentation on community-driven innovation. (Serendipitously, that was followed by another collaboration on a similar theme, with IDEO.)

Images from UP Singapore except where they obviously aren't.


On the nature of community-driven innovation

This year, we were involved as mentors once more, and got to see yet another batch of great ideas come outta it. 

So this time, we thought we'd do a comparative reflection on our experiences there, from the perspective of mentors (a rather peripheral role!). (Yes, this is overdue, but hey as they say, better late than never!) This post is Part 1 of 2.

What it is: a weekend of geeks, designers, researchers, etc coming together to form teams and build an app over the 2 days, and sharing them to everyone at the end. The whole process is supported by big data from big partners (eg. SAP, Singtel, Comfort Cabs, etc), as well as mentors, and pizza+beer (of course). 

Hacking away

The first one was on various themes - well actually, it was unthemed. So people could just bring all sorts of ideas and rock up, and see what comes up. Which is what happened. 

In particular, there was a lot of pivoting around many ideas, and several of them went through some major evolution over the 2 days. The way we saw it, the mentors were a sounding board, but also a source of tough questions - the toughest of which were typically around challenging the very need for what the team was offering. But well, gotta push if you want quality ideas coming out yeah?

The ideas: lots, and lots, of taxi booking apps - but also a bunch of other pretty unique ones too. We particularly liked:

ClimateRight: crowd-adjusted aircon temperatures that uses real-time data from in-building users, via an app, to save energy on unnecessary chill. 

SurePark: Find a parking lot in the city, before you even head out. Lets you know how many lots are available in a major building, predict how many will be free at your estimated time of arrival and help you reserve a lot in advance.

Postcode Postcard: lets you visualize the local mobile network data (and other datasets), render it, and print to physical postcard on the spot. They have a working prototype (mad props guys!) - check it out here.

Visualise cellular mobile data, transport network data, etc - and BOOM! there's your cool postcardGranDate: A web app that helps you plan a date with your gramps! The app uses crowd-sourced data to identify the best venues and activities catering to the older generation.


We are particularly proud of GranDate - they started out with a pretty disparate group and not much of an idea, but pivoted majorly at least once, if not twice. They ended up with a really clever concept that isn't terribly techincally difficult to put together, yet could really help the young professionals in their 20s and 30s make spending time with their folks way easier. Also, they were the winning team from UP Singapore 2012! w00t!