GAMES designer Desmond Hinkson hesitates to adjust the air-con settings in his Changi Business Park office because he is not sure if others feel that it is just too cold.
Now, he has found a way to convey his feelings and get something done. In a recent weekend brainstorming event on urban solutions, his team came up with a mobile application called ClimateRight. It allows people to give real-time feedback on how warm or cold they feel so that the building management can make adjustments.
Mr Hinkson, 41, and his team are planning to apply for funding of up to $250,000 from the Media Development Authority.
The idea took root two weeks ago when technology consultancy Newton Circus organised a project called UP Singapore that tapped previously confidential corporate and government data to solve some of the country's problems. Then, about 250 members of the public and technology enthusiasts came together to analyse the data.
They were given data like real-time bus arrival information from SMRT, call figures from SingTel, disease and fatality rates from the Ministry of Health and location information from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), among others.
At the end of the event, 30 ideas were submitted and ClimateRight came up tops. Other ideas included an app that allows drivers to book parking space based on live data updates of how full the carpark is.
The event is backed by the Economic Development Board (EDB) which has identified urban solutions as a key growth sector for Singapore, particularly in exporting home-grown technology and to be a 'living lab' for global companies to test-bed and commercialise green solutions.
A separate initiative to share government data, called data. gov.sg, has led to citizens creating applications such as a map to post stray-cat sightings.
Mr Hinkson and his team used the relevant map and location data provided by the LTA to track movements and comfort levels of more than 200 of its app users. The app locates users with a Global Positioning System and users can indicate if they are feeling 'too hot', 'just right', 'too cold' or anywhere in between. The information will be collected and used by those managing buildings.
The judges from the IT and creative industries chose ClimateRight because of its relevance to tropical Singapore, said Ms Christine Outram, one of the judges and creative director of UP Singapore.
Three in four Singaporeans faced health issues due to strong air-conditioning, in WWF's Earth Hour poll last year.
Ms Outram, who is also founder of global think-tank The City Innovation Group, has worked on city projects with the United Nations and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Singapore is the second city her team has worked with so far on using data to tackle urban woes. They will go to London, New York and Zurich next.
Said Newton Circus' founding partner Jason Aspes: 'Singapore is an extremely wired country, with lots of data to mine and a high smartphone usage. There is a lot of potential to harness these resources to solve urban problems.'