Better Together - Design Challenge

Have you ever been on a metro train in Singapore? What strikes you most is the silence, all this people with their eyes fixed on the screen of the mobile phones.
During the annual Global ServiceDesign Conference (SDGC) in New York, Designit and Wipro Digital launched a Design Challenge on the topic of urban isolation and loneliness with the aim to develop future-oriented experiences ad services that foster the creation of meaningful connections among citizens and their environment.
Cities are known for offering endless possibilities, they are a melting pot of cultures but they can also enhance isolation and loneliness. Furthermore in this era of technology we have never been more connected (social media, instant messaging etc.) but are this meaningful connections?
Starting from this, in a short brainstorming session at the SDGC in New York we explored what it means to be new to a city as an expat or professional. Together with my mates Ellora (USA) and Fryza (Indonesia) in a short desk research and interviews with expats, found that most of them experienced social hesitance towards locals and their fellow co-workers, even though these same connections could help expats to integrate into a new culture.
After analysing deeply the different needs of expats we developed an innovative and engaging solution, the Integration Missions. It is an App that uses gamification to facilitate social connections between expats and locals. It prompts expats to socialise and integrate into their new cities by providing different social missions. Each mission connects people with co-workers, fellow expats or locals while helping them navigate and understand their new home.
Our proposal won the honourable mention at the Design Challenge which fills us with pride but the unexpected gain of participating in this challenge was to learn how to collaborate remotely. The design process requires collaboration and a continuos exchange of ideas and inputs. So how can you foster this process through digital tools that eliminate physical distance and communication problems due to different timezones was another challenge that we mastered.
Maybe not to the perfection, but we will continue to work on it and that one day you will be surprised by the chatting on the metro train of Singapore.