SINGAPORE: Apps and services for Housing & Development Board (HDB) residents could soon be developed as part of the agency's plans to improve the living environment in its estates.
Under the Pulse of the Heartlands programme, HDB will partner Sentient.io, StarHub, IBM and the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to develop an ecosystem of applications and services that will be "useful to residents", the agency said in a news release on Wednesday (Nov 28).
The development of this ecosystem will make use of information on HDB towns such as shops in the neighbourhood and leverage AI capabilities such as a voice-enabled chatbot for residents to interact with, said HDB.
"The Pulse of the Heartlands initiative is part of the Smart HDB Town Framework which maps out how HDB will create liveable, efficient, sustainable and safe towns for residents," said HDB.
As a start, StarHub will develop a new mobile application that will allow residents to seek out dining options, retailers and service providers in their neighbourhood. They can also use the chatbot to get more information on where to eat or shop, and get notification alerts on the latest events near them.
A beta version of the app is set to be available for free by the first quarter of 2019, and more features will then be rolled out progressively, said HDB.
"Over time, the platform will be enriched with more datasets as other public agencies and private companies come on board to offer more types of data, such as location and availability of transport and car park facilities," said HDB.
It noted that the data collected will be anonymised prior to analysis to safeguard residents’ privacy.
ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS, ENTERPRISES TO GET FUNDING
The Pulse of the Heartlands initiative was one of two announced on Wednesday by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, as he launched the HDB Innovation Festival - a two-day showcase of innovative solutions and programmes at the HDB Hub Atrium.
The other initiative, called Cool Ideas Enterprise, is aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs and enterprises with ideas to improve the HDB living environment.
The programme is run by HDB in partnership with Enterprise Singapore, and supported by the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) and the Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI).
Under the programme, entrepreneurs and enterprises can apply for funding and seek mentorship to help fine-tune or scale up their solutions for implementation, said HDB.
"Enterprise Singapore will fund up to 70 per cent of the development cost of each innovation. An estimated S$5 million will be awarded to multiple projects over two years," said HDB on the funding of the initiative.
These ideas could include solutions for domains like energy, urban greenery and living environment.
HDB said it will offer "practical expertise and advice", testing opportunities and a potential chance to pilot these ideas in selected HDB estates like Punggol, Yuhua and Tengah.
Successful applicants can then make use of Enterprise Singapore's business networks as well, and ACE can also help them expand their ideas abroad.