Justin Tan at GovInsider: “The visual treat of woks tossing fried carrot cake, the dull thuds of a chopper expertly dicing up a chicken, the fragrant lime aroma of grilled sambal stingray. The sensory playgrounds of Singapore’s hawker centres are close to many citizens’ homes and hearts, and have even recently won global recognition by UNESCO.
However, the pandemic has left many hawkers facing slow business. While restaurants and fast food chains have quickly caught on to food delivery services, many elderly hawkers were left behind in the digital race.
28 year-old Singaporean M Thirukkumaran developed an online community map called “Help Our Hawkers” that provides information on digitally-disadvantaged hawkers near users’ locations, such as opening hours and stall information. GovInsider caught up with him to learn how it was built and how governments can support fellow civic hackers…
Besides creating space for civic innovation, governments can step in to give particularly promising projects a boost with their resources and influence, Thiru says.
Most community-led projects need to rely on cloud services such as AWS, which can be expensive for a small team to bear, he explains. Government subsidies or grants may help to ease the cost for digital infrastructure.
In Thiru’s case, the map needed to be rolled out quickly to be useful. He chose to build his tool with Google Maps to speed up the process, as many users are already familiar with it.
Another way that governments can help is through getting more visibility to these community-led projects with their wide reach, Thiru suggests. Community projects commonly face a “cold start” dilemma. This arises where the community tool needs data for it to be useful, but citizens also hesitate to spend time on a tool if it is not useful in the first place.
Thiru jump started his tool by contributing a few stalls on his own. With more publicity with government campaigns, the process could be sped up considerably, he shares….(More)”.