SMRT to fund commuter hackathon winners
By Digital News Asia September 3, 2014
- 5 winning teams out of more than 120 participants over 3-day session
- NUS Enterprise to provide mentorship guidance, access to validation workshops, etc.
SOME among the five winning teams at the recent ‘NUS-SMRT Commuthon’ will be able to tap on to an S$120,000 (US$95,770) fund provided by SMRT Corporation Ltd to take their prototypes further.
SMRT, a multi-modal public transport operator in Singapore, SMRT paired up with NUS Enterprise to organise Singapore’s first commuter experience hackathon.
Taking place over the weekend of Aug 29-31, the NUS-SMRT Commuthon resulted in five winning prototypes, each receiving an S$500 (S$399) cash prize and the opportunity to qualify for further funding to develop their solutions for implementation.
“The hallmark of service excellence does not stop with strong service delivery but in working with engaged commuters to enhance the overall travel experience,” said SMRT Trains managing director Lee Ling Wee.
“SMRT will be funding some of these innovations and we look forward to launching these in our network in the near future.
“Technology is a key enabler in raising operational performance and customer experience standards, and we are confident these new solutions will work very well alongside our own initiatives to improve customer service touch-points and enhance the overall travel experience for all our commuters,” he added.
A panel of eight judges comprising senior experts from SMRT and NUS (the National Universoity of Singapore) selected five winning solutions that showed the most potential in creating a more positive travel experience through innovation and technology.
In addition to cash prizes, selected winners will be able to tap on to the $120,000 fund provided by SMRT. Details will be made known once evaluations are completed over the coming weeks, SMRT and NUS Enterprise said in a joint statement.
NUS Enterprise, the university’s initiative that aims to provide an enterprise dimension to its teaching and research, will support the winning teams by offering mentorship guidance, access to validation workshops, and hot-desking support.
“Hackathons are conducive environments that encourage talented individuals to convene, discuss and develop new prototypes and solutions, by leveraging upon technology and innovation,” said NUS Enterprise chief executive officer Dr Lily Chan (pic).
“NUS Enterprise will continue to support the winning teams, as they bring their ideas closer to implementation,” she added.
The winning teams in each category were:
Teams had to find a way to encourage positive commuter behaviour, through smart decision-making applications that result in effective crowd distribution and better commuter flow.
Your Move: The team recommended a mobile app that uses rewards and gamification to positively influence commuters to move within the train carriages and avoid standing too close to the train doors, which prevents other commuters from boarding. The app will leverage upon the latest iBeacon technology which can detect the proximity of nearby mobile devices using Bluetooth signals.
When commuters connect to the app, they will be able to earn rewards points, based on their location within the cabin. These rewards can be redeemed at retail outlets at the stations.
The team is a group of six alumni from the NUS Overseas Colleges programme, an initiative that immerses students in entrepreneurial hubs locally and around the world.
Urbanite: Train breakdowns, delays and overcrowding are a regular concern for commuters. The team recommended a decision-making mobile app that aims to address these issues by providing commuters real-time, travel-related data that allows them to better plan their routes.
Users will have easy access to information on the capacities of incoming trains and be able to know their corresponding waiting time and travelling time.
In event of a train disruption, the app automatically suggests several alternative routes.
Teams were asked to position Bukit Batok and Chua Chu Kang Interchanges as smart interchanges of the future, with better information accessibility and innovative and commuter-centric services.
RideWithMe: The team recommended an efficient bus dispatch scheduler that aims to solve problems such as long waiting times for commuters, over-crowding, inaccurate bus arrival times and navigation difficulties.
The system works by crowdsourcing information such as commuter location data, real-time traffic data and historical feeds. The system can also provide a virtual reality guide to offer commuters directions and locate prominent landmarks.
Teams explored enhancing commuter travel experience during peak hours through solutions that provide supply and demand matching to improve real-time taxi availability.
BetterUs: After a taxi drops off its passenger, it spends time idling in the area or plying the roads looking for the next passenger. This wastes time and petrol.
The team recommended a mobile app that provides real-time supply and demand matching by having commuters indicate their location on a map. Taxi drivers in the vicinity can drive to the pickup locations directly.
This reduces waiting time for commuters who are often frustrated when they cannot find a taxi.
The solution is relevant for street hires and does not disrupt the current taxi booking model. The team anticipates that the solution could be operational in six months.
This covered cross-functional solutions or solutions not specific to the other categories. It could also involve solutions with corporate social responsibility (CSR) elements.
Tapidata: Employees who travel by taxi for work need to manage their taxi receipts. This can be a hassle because of fading ink imprints, misplaced receipts and having to sort through a pile of receipts.
The team recommended a system for taxi commuters to receive digital e-receipts on their mobile phones. At the end of their trip, commuters tap their NFC-enabled smartphone or ez-link card on an NFC (near-field communications) reader in the taxi.
The e-receipt is automatically provided to commuters who can then forward it to supervisors for endorsement through an online web portal. Embedded security features ensure the integrity of these e-receipts.
Another advantage is that it establishes a connection between the taxi hirer and commuters, in situations where valuable items are accidentally left behind. This system is being incubated by NUS Enterprise.
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