As part of its on-going effort to enhance its operational performance and customer experience touch-points, SMRT paired up with NUS Enterprise to organise Singapore’s first commuter experience Hackathon. Taking place over the weekend of 29 - 31 August 2014, “The NUS-SMRT Commuthon”, resulted in five winning prototypes, each receiving a $500 cash prize and the opportunity to qualify for further funding to develop their solutions for implementation.
Mr. Lee Ling Wee, Managing Director, SMRT Trains said, “The hallmark of service excellence does not stop with strong service delivery but in working with engaged commuters to enhance the overall travel experience. This is a first for the transport industry in Singapore, and we are excited to work with NUS Enterprise to provide a new and meaningful platform for public engagement. 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.”
Dr. Lily Chan, Chief Executive Officer, NUS Enterprise said, “The NUS-SMRT Commuthon saw a great turn out from entrepreneurs and developers, who are keen to create a more positive travel experience. Hackathons are conducive environments that encourage talented individuals to convene, discuss and develop new prototypes and solutions, by leveraging upon technology and innovation. NUS Enterprise will continue to support the winning teams, as they bring their ideas closer to implementation.”
A panel of eight judges comprising senior experts from SMRT and NUS 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 a $120,000 fund provided by SMRT. Details will be made known once evaluations are completed over the coming weeks. NUS Enterprise will support the winning teams by offering mentorship guidance, access to validation workshops and hot-desking support.
The winning teams in each category are:
· Trains Category – 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.
o 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.
o 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. In this way, the app empowers commuters to make informed decisions for better journey planning.
· Buses Category – 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.
o 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 crowd-sourcing 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. This system can also potentially generate advertising income. Please watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqtyL1ISYe4
· Taxis Category – Teams explored enhancing commuter travel experience during peak hours through solutions that provide supply and demand matching to improve real-time taxi availability.
o 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 6 months.
· Open Category – This covered cross-functional solutions or solutions not specific to the other categories. It could also involve solutions with Corporate Social Responsibility elements.
o Tapidata – Employees that 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 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. The system is environmentally friendly and also benefits employers, as e-receipts are easier to manage. 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 incubated by NUS Enterprise.
To help prepare participants for the NUS-SMRT Commuthon, an event briefing and an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of SMRT’s bus and train depots took place on 22 August. Senior Managers from SMRT briefed the participants on the Commuthon’s problem statements, and shared their insights on the challenges and opportunities in the transport industry. The Commuthon was held at Plug-In@Blk71, which is managed by NUS Enterprise, and it was well attended by over 120 participants who formed 39 teams.
SMRT Corporation Ltd (SMRT) is the leading multi-modal public transport operator in Singapore. SMRT serves millions of passengers daily by offering a safe, reliable and comprehensive transport network that consists of an extensive MRT and light rail system which connects seamlessly with its island-wide bus and taxi operations. SMRT also markets and leases the commercial and media spaces within its transport network, and offers engineering consultancy and project management as well as operations and maintenance services, locally and internationally.