Prototype solutions to improve Chinatown’s visitor experience

The Chinatown coLAB 2014 was a 3 day hackathon organised by the Singapore Tourism Board with UP Singapore to design and prototype solutions to improve Chinatown’s visitors experience.

More than 120 participants came together over 28th-30th March 2014 to design and prototype tech solutions which bring to life Chinatown’s heritage and stories of its community and businesses.

The Brief

Chinatown is Singapore’s largest historic district and one of the oldest in the world (Chinese community in Singapore was recorded since 1330). Being a multi-racial and multi-cultural society since its founding, Singapore Chinatown is not the exclusive sphere of the ethnic Chinese but also includes Indians and Muslims with their Temples, Mosques, and Churches found alongside each other.

Yet, despite efforts to preserve the history and culture of Singapore Chinatown through the conservation of buildings, culture, cuisines, festivals, and place of worships, it is often considered as touristy and artificial. As such, Chinatown coLAB 2014 is organized to seek ideas which would address following challenges:

  • Challenge 1: Collecting Stories: How might we use technology to better collect, document and visualize often hidden data and community stories that help us better understand the Chinatown story?

  • Challenge 2: Telling Stories: How might we use technology to offer new Chinatown experience that will engage and help visitor to make accessible the stories of Chinatown, navigate and find what they want; or even better, what they didn’t know existed to enhance their enjoyment?

  • Challenge 3: Connecting Chinatown Businesses with Visitors: How might we use technology to help Chinatown businesses do to better connect with visitors/customers?

Context Discovery

Our team had great time learning about Chinatown story from local Chinatown community member such as Victor Yue, Blogger bullockcartwater as well as mentors from NUS Enterprise and Kreta Ayer Community. The opportunity interacting with local community members is really inspiring. We met may passionate members who are willing to volunteer their time and share their Chinatown story to visitors.

Idea: Today Tomorrow

Connect visitors and local Chinatown community of volunteers in real-time

We began to realize that connecting these volunteers and visitors who are curious, interested or care to know more about Chinatown heritage is not an easy tasks, due to various factors such as location, time, and interest.

Our solution aims to make Volunteer and Visitors meetup planning and connection simple, easy and spontaneous. One way to achieve this is through a mobile app with real-time list of currently available volunteers and allowing meetup appointment to either today or tomorrow. This results in better control and flexibility for both visitor and volunteers to manage their appointments according to their current availability.

In addition, our app allows visitor to leave feedback (or token of appreciation) to respective volunteer, which would bring a more positive, pleasant and rewarding experience.


Our application was awarded “2nd Runner Up” prize.

Presentation and Highlight Reel from UP Singapore.