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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.

Filtering by Tag: cities

Can you hack urban poverty?

Bernise Ang

Auntie Alana*, a Bukit Ho Swee resident we spoke with

Auntie Alana*, a Bukit Ho Swee resident we spoke with

For the last 5 months or so, we've been working on a small project in a tiny part of Singapore. Small in scope - or so we thought. What started out as an idea to "come up with some ideas" for low-income families has grown into a project that's part anthropology, part data, part design.

The Syinc team synthesising findings for the community brief

The Syinc team synthesising findings for the community brief

Under The Hood is a civic experiment to crowdsource hyperlocal solutions for urban transformation. We seek to better understand urban poverty and struggling neighbourhoods in Singapore - and co-design solutions with the wider community. And in this case, we're focusing on one particular neighbourhood - Bukit Ho Swee.

From the design process

From the design process

The project brings together motivated geeks + designers + citizens (and more!) to tackle the critical issues underlying urban poverty. Starts with ethnographic research and data analysis, then online brainstorming, which leads to a 2-day hackathon in the heart of Bukit Ho Swee. 

Hackathon weekend is Nov 22-24, and selected teams will present at Social Innovation Camp Asia Nov 29 - Dec 1.

Also, this is our first partnership with the UNDP and partners in tech, higher education, social services, government sectors, and more. We're excited!


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Awesome graphic design by Monique Ang

Awesome graphic design by Monique Ang


Hackathons are great, and we love them - and been mentors at UP Singapore and Lean Startup Machine ever since they first started in Singapore. We love them because of the creativity they harness from the community, and the great sense of collaboration they generate. We would love for there to be more context, more analysis, and better problem definition. 

On the other hand, professionally we practice a kind of consulting that uses empathy to get emotional/behavioural insights which we innovate around (for products, services, sometimes social policy). It's good for getting deep insights about users, and to actually define clearly the problem/s people will be trying to solve. But this closed process doesn't benefit from everyone's crazy ideas bouncing off each other.

And so it hit us: why don't we apply what we do - like the investigative bits and problem identification - and integrate it with the creative, open bits about hackathons? Enter Under The Hood.

On the backend of this is an attempt to develop a process/method/approach to make ideating and innovation informed by behavioural insight, data-driven, and hyperlocal to any particular city's context. We invite you to explore with us how such a process could be understood, and then adapted, for other communities in Asia (or beyond). Talk to us.

*name changed to protect identity.