Hack out API-enabled Smart Assistant to raise awareness and harness the power of Open Data

Smart Nation API coLAB organised by Padang & Co, Accenture and Intel Mashery brought together key members in the API economy: government, corporates, startups and hackers to share use cases and explore opportunities in a variety of themes such as Smart Living, Transport, Travel & Places, and Fintech & Commerce. The coLAB offered easy access to more than 150 curated APIs from government and businesses in Singapore through a series of learning and hands-on events. The event culminates in a API Hack Day where tech and data enthusiasts rapidly prototype and showcase their ‘hacks’.

The Brief

Accenture Technology Vision 2015 reported advances in cloud, mobile platforms, and application development are eliminating the technological and cost barriers associated with digital industry platforms. This creates potential for disruptive growth, which includes the emergence of API Economy as “Digital glue and Secret Sauce” that can unlock business value and spurring innovation.

At the same time, the Smart Nation initiative was launched on 24 November 2014 to transform Singapore as “nation where people live meaningful and fulfilled lives, enabled seamlessly by technology, offering exciting opportunities for all”. It represents aspirations beyond other smart city projects in making lives better. Together as a nation, the initiative aims to connect, strengthen and empower community and society with new opportunities, to better look out for and care for one another. With rapid changes of IT, one of the key challenge we found out is “How might we make IT powered by Smart Nation API accessible to everybody and to prevent a digital divide from turning up in Singapore - between those who have IT and can afford it and know how to use it, and those who do not have IT or do not know how to use it?”.

Idea: Project Chatty

SMS-based Smart Assistant for Inclusive Society

We learned that more often than not existing Smart Nation solutions require Internet access. Unfortunately, this may exclude people who do not have access to Internet or Smartphone technology. IDA (Singapore Infocomm Development Authority) Infocomm Usage for Households and Individuals Survey 2013 highlighted 13% of Singapore population do not have access to Computer and Internet.

Meanwhile, subscription to mobile broadband services falls drastically as the age of the respondents increased from 80% for those aged 18-39 years old to only 25% for those 60 years and above. As such, our goal is to make it possible for people without Internet and Smartphone to access and benefit from Smart Nation platform capabilities.

During Smart Nation API coLAB, we demonstrated SMS-based Smart Assistant to help people find alternative route when there’s public transport breakdown. This could be helpful for those who may not have smartphone or installed map / transport-related app before.

We also developed other use cases such as finding daily essentials (e.g. AXS machine for paying bills) and precious community moments from NLB SG Memory project nearby. We hope such approach could also help minimize digital divide in Singapore in her journey to be inclusive society.


In this project, we used Address and Public Transport API from SLA OneMap, AXS, Singapore Memory Project from NLB as well as Nokia HERE Map REST API to detect nearby locations. Our idea was selected as Best Use of Government Data (API), Best Use of Smart Living API and Best in Show.

Presentation and Highlight Reel from UP Singapore.