http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/hdb-inks-agreements-worth-s-10-7m-to-boost-construction-9191022

Housing Board void decks of the future could be equipped with WiFi-enabled workspaces for residents to study or hold workshops.

Such facilities will be looked into as part of the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) research collaboration with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

The agreement with SUTD is for a study called the New Urban Kampung research programme. It will use a data-driven approach to better understand residents’ preferences and help build stronger communities, said HDB.

For instance, researchers will go beyond traditional demographics to study emerging lifestyle trends and sentiments towards the community. This will be done though looking at data from traditional census and surveys, as well as big data from sensors placed around estates.

Such information may help planners and architects come up with more customised improvements for an estate, such as WiFi-enabled workspaces at void decks to serve a digitally connected generation, said HDB.

Another aim of the study is to find new ways of incorporating community-centric design into estates, said HDB.

Using data from sensors, researchers may be able to monitor how residents interact within the precinct’s existing design, then come up with ways to promote a sense of community.

For example, motion sensors on smart lighting could help HDB better understand how residents move around and utilise an estate’s community spaces, and work towards redesigning the areas that are under-utilised.

If data shows that residents in a particular estate are fond of cycling, customised cycling apps could be introduced in the estate.

Other aspects of the study will look at improving the way HDB assesses the quality of life of its residents, beyond traditional basic indicators such as healthcare, sanitation and safety. It will also study the use of data in environmental modelling tools, to assess the effectiveness of sustainability-driven initiatives in towns and estates and resident receptiveness before each project is test-bedded.

“Besides the hardware, the heartware is also very important. So we are combining our social science as well as technology as well as big data to really look into different kind of scales of data from interviewing, participatory approach, through mobile apps – all these we can actually integrate through the use of technology and the understanding of social science in the HDB context,” said Assistant Professor Chong Keng Hua, of SUTD’s Social Urban Research Groups.

“We already have done a lot of groundwork in the past few years. So now the challenge is how to integrate all this to provide a more holistic and integrated platform for these community empowerment projects.”