Living Space

A mobile app designed to encourage community engagement at the neighbourhood level with an underlying goal of encouraging co-creation and co-delivery with local government.
Design a mobile application that will  encourage community engagement
Project Manager
User Research
Azy Aziz
Dylan Lim
Sean Tan
3 weeks
September 2020
“The essential challenge is to transform the isolation and self-interest within our communities into connectedness and caring for the whole.”
― Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging

The 2017 Graciousness Survey by the Singaporean Kindness movement (SKM) reported that Singaporeans have been mixing less with their neighbours, with more indicating a need to maintain their privacy and putting less emphasis on greater neighbourliness . This is concerning as studies have suggested that feeling a sense of community and attachment to neighbouring relationships can increase the feeling of safety and security, residential satisfaction, community identity, civic participation and mental health and well being. In the context of a pandemic, lockdowns and partial lockdowns elsewhere have shown, periods of prolonged isolation - especially for those living alone - can have an impact on mental health and social well-being.

The Brief
We were tasked to work with Civic SG and the Cairnhill Neighbourhood Committee (CNC) is looking to expand its digital outreach to residents, in order to:
CNC envisions a mobile app that can be used to engage residents, inform them of events and other circulars and that can enable for a continuous conversation between residents, the NC, and other GROs.

This engagement occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, where the city’s circuit breaker measure have shown that there is a need for local governments to explore alternative ways of engaging with their residents.
My Role
As project manager, I was responsible for ensuring all deliverables were completed in time,  all administrative tasks, ensuring overall team collaboration and being the main point of contact with the client. In addition to this, I also oversaw the user research of the project- ensuring that we developed a solution that would be valuable to our end user.
“To Know Where You Are Going, You Have to First Know Where You Are.”
― Maya Angelou

First we wanted to understand the breadth of practices that make up community engagement within the local neighbourhood context led by the CNC and the various stakeholders; and second, turning that understanding toward guiding how we conceive of and design a mobile app that mediate and enable these diverse goals, practices, and accountabilities. With this in mind we developed our research goals:

Community Engagement Ecosystem in Cairnhill
People’s Association
>A statutory board that oversees neighbourhood grassroots communities and social organisations

>Over 1,800 grassroots organisations (GROs) and 109 Community Centers

>Staff provide support to the GROs, which include the Community Club Management Committees, Residents' Committees and Neighbourhood Committees
Neighbourhood Committee
Neighbourhood Committees (NCs) were formed to encourage active citizenry and foster stronger community bonds within private housing estates. NCs also work with various government agencies to improve the social and physical environment in their private housing estates.
The Management Corporation Strata Title, generally refers to the managing body of a condominium. Its main role is to manage and maintain public facilities

Given that Cairnhill comprises of only private housing, condo MCSTs are a key stakeholder for the CNC.

Cairnhill Neighbourhood Committee's key activities:

Community Engagement Model

We were fortunate to have a panel of advisors that included representatives from the PA to provide input during this critical phase.  A recurring goal for their outreach efforts seeks to move from the lower order engagement (inform, transace and consult) to higher order engagement (build consensus, co-deliver and co-create).

This model provided further insights to the what the solution should aim to achieve but also brought with it its own set of challenges:

Competitive and Comparative Analysis

In conducting our research, we wanted to see what solutions had been designed in relation to community engagement, co-creation and civic media that would make sense in the Cairnhill context.

Neighbourhood level Applications
Based in the NZ and in the UK, both apps are:
- Neighbourhood Level Private Social Networks
- use various methods in order to verify that users are neighbourhood residents
- allow for the creation of groups and events by users
- allow for social messages and feature a marketplace
Civic Tech Tools
Polis is a an open source technology for survey research that leverages data science

- Described as “an evolving, lively, artificially intelligent, interactive “suggestion box” that can realize consensus around a controversial question.”
Comparable Apps in Singapore
At present, there are no private social networks at the neighbourhood level in Singapore. The closest comparison is iCondo which is at the condominium level working with the MCST.

Outside is a focuses on outsourcing tasks in the community while SingPass is an aggregator government services.

In analysing the apps and tools, a feature inventory was conducted looking at 33 different features in order to identify key features focusing on Neighbourly and NextDoor.  + Bowling Green Civic Assembly

We were inspired by how had been used around the world. Of particular relevance was the Bowling Green Civic Assembly (BGCA) where those working in the county of Bowling Green were asked:  

“What do you believe should change in Bowling Green/Warren County in order to make it a better place to work, live, and spend time?”
As shown below, BGCA showed how the the use of lowered the barriers to participation and allowed for a more inclusive way of gathering inputs from residents. The results then allowed organisers to follow up with informed workshops to work on initiatives based on priorities that had already been identified:


Submit and Vote
  • Participants submit short statements expressing their views
  • Respond to other statements with Agree, Disagree, or Pass.  


Participants Clustered
  • Algorithm sorts participants into diverse clusters of like-minded responders
  • Consensus statements" identified 


Ecosystem of Perspectives 
  • Participants can view whole ecosystem of perspectives as it evolves
  • Statements tend to become more specific and practical


Follow up Dialogue
  • Follow up dialogue among diverse stakeholders, citizens or decision-makers to inform and stimulate their creative responses to the question
User Interviews
Always have a plan b

User interviews are critical to understanding user needs and discovering their pain points. Given the tight timeline of the project, we only had 2 days for user recruitment - targeting Cairnhill residents. However, due to insufficient respondents, we then shifted gears to target Singaporeans that were of a similar demographic to those living in Cairnhill as seen below:

Age & Gender

29-39 years

  • 5 female, 4 male
  • 4 in the 20-30 age bracket
  • 5 in the 30-40 age bracket

Locals & Expats

  • 5 Singaporeans
  • 4 expats (Australian, Japanese, Malaysian and Serbian)

Parents & Single

  • 5 unmarried
  • 4 parents (3 mothers/1 dad), children under the age of 8


  • All professionals (2 turned to full-time parents)
  •  All lived in private residences

Following the interviews, we reviewed over 80 observations in order to identify common themes. The following represent our key insights from the studies:

Issue Resolution
  • I will go to Condo management for issues
  • I will go to Government agencies/MPs for bigger issues
  • I felt accessibility and transport is the common issue due to ongoing upgrades
  • I am confident in the government and they will listen to my feedback(expats
  • I feel that a collective voice would have more impact
  • I would love more marketing from the NCs,CCs and PA
  • I feel CC events and classes do not cater to my age group (20-40s)
  • I will attend CC events if it’s free/low cost
  • I have no issues using Singpass to log in
  • I use Facebook and Instagram more
  • I get to explore my area more during covid period

Based on the user interviews, we developed 2 user personas- Beatrice and Patrick. We used our two personas constantly throughout the project to guide design decisions, priorities, and create empathy amongst the client and out team.

<L-R> Our two personas: Beatrice and Patrick

Our research revealed that users had different motivations for getting involved with their community, thus having differing requirements. This is further reflected in their problem statements below.

Beatrice, a busy expat mother, wants to be more in the know about the developments in Cairnhill so that she can keep her kids busy and meet her daily need
Patrick, an IT professional, wants to be more involved and engaged in community, to be able to campaign more effectively for an improved fitness corner in the local park

These problem statements allowed us to develop HMW questions to help us brainstorm for solutions.

  • HMW allow Beatrice to find out about local happenings/activities and connect to like-minded people?
  • HMW connect Beatrice and Patrick to government agencies for info/feedback?
  • HMW allow Patrick to find out if others feel the same way about the issue?
  • HMW allow Patrick to find out what happens to feedback that is provided to the agencies?
  • HMW CNC  better engage the community regardless of social distancing?
  • HMW the CNC co-create with the community?
  • HMW CNC deepen the conversation and understanding of the community and issues?
  • HMW the CNC  ensure the solution be sustainable?

A design workshop was conducted with the client to allow us to brainstorm together on potential features to meet their goals and user needs. Following the workshop, we then prioritised the ideas using the MoSCoW prioritisation matrix focusing on the high impact and easy to implement solutions. We also mapped out the ‘must have’ features on to the community engagement model.

Ideate and develop
“Good information architecture enables people to find and do what they came for. Great information architecture takes find out of the equation.”
― Jeffrey Zeldman


After reviewing the key insights from the user interviews, competitor analysis findings and prioritised features, we drafted a user flow and sitemap.


We proceeded to do 'tree testing' on our site map - a research activity that helps us understand how people go about finding things. From this, we learned that people search for items in different ways and this inspired the flexible navigation we designed.


Following tree testing, we revised the site map with the prioritised features that we would like to focus on this project.

Once we had our site map and user flow, we could start working on our prototype. Following our first rough sketches, we developed medium fidelity wireframes the led to our first prototype.

Don’t get too attached to solutions
We conducted 3 rounds of Useability Testing  with 5 users in each round (15 total). Users were screened to ensure that they all stayed in a private residence and used mobile applications on a regular basis. Each user was given 4 tasks to complete:
  • Task 1 : You are a parent looking to find a family friendly event to join for the weekend of 7th-13th September. Can you show me how you would complete the task?
  • Task 2 : You are a resident at Cairnhill who wants to write in to the Neighbourhood Committee about the noise level of some residents every Friday night. As you are not sure of which unit, you approach the Neighbourhood Committee to check.
  • Task 3 : You notice there is no ramp on the pedestrian overhead bridge outside your estate and want to do something about it. Can you me how you would write in?
  • Task 4 : You would like to find like minded people who are into Artificial Intelligence. Can you show me how you would do that?
With the exception of task 3, all tasks showed a significant improvement in task success. It became apparent from  the outset of testing that there was a lack of interest from users in utilising the Government Directory feature (the key feature tested under Task 3). We made amendments each round to increase its appeal but when there was still no interest by Round 3, we made the decision to remove it.

In developing our solution, we kept our focus on what would meet the needs of Partrick and Beatrice  and our client goals.:

Groups + Events

  • Automatically assigned to official residential group “Cairnhill Residents”
  • NCs can disseminate information and build local culture!
  • Connect to like-minded people and find out what’s going on in the neighbourhood!


  • Convenient feedback method to NCs
  • Feedback tags show what issues are trending in the community


  • Voting system built on
  • Helps people in community to see what are the key concerns and know what they feel
  • Voters can provide anonymous input which provides mutual understanding and perspective
  • Helps voters accelerate to a common consensus
  • Empowers and drives co-creation (Bowling Green @ Kentucky, US)

Singpass Login

  • Verify credentials with Singpass
  • Provide users with the security that content posted is by real neighbours
<L-R> Detailed breakdown as to how solutions addressed organization goals and met user needs in our prototype
In order to further communicate to our clients and stakeholders how the app would  allow for greater community engagement and movement towards the higher order of engagement, we developed a storyboard about Patrick.

View the final prototype

Living Space - the app that allows you to engage with your neighbours and contribute to building a better neighbourhood!
See Prototype
Working for the Cairnhill Neighbourhood Committee and Civic.Sg was such a rewarding and meaningful challenge. We were fortunate to have access to a team of advisors from both the People’s Associations and Oppi on a weekly basis that offered their insights and guidance giving our solution further depth.

Some of my key takeaways from this project:
Client Testimonial
Efficient problem solver is the phrase that comes to mind when I think of Azy. I had the pleasure of working with Azy for three weeks, where she project managed a and Cairnhill Neighbourhood Committee initiative that looked to develop a mobile app to encourage community engagement. I was impressed with the depth of the user research and her ability to collaborate with our stakeholders as well as communicate the vision of the proposed app to our stakeholders. Overall, it was a pleasure working with her and think Azy would be an asset to any team.
― Kenneth Bok,