Changi Airport Hackathon: That Time 100 People Spent the Weekend at the Airport and Got Somewhere Awesome


This past weekend (3 and 4 October 2015), over a hundred people came to the airport and spent the weekend there. Unlike a million travellers passing through the airport every day, they weren’t taking a flight but ‘hacking’ out new ideas to deliver a Changi ‘wow’ experience at the Changi Airport Hackathon.

This is Changi Airport Group’s (CAG) first open innovation initiative that offers a fantastic opportunity for the community to co-create new solutions to engage travellers in-transit or on their arrival, or before they arrive at the airport for their flights. The challenge was to get all travellers make most of what Changi Airport offers.

Once again, the UP Singapore community rose to the challenge. The interest from the community was unprecedented — we had to close registration early. We kicked off with 30 teams at the Terminal 2 hackathon venue. More on this later.

Pre-Hackathon Workshop

Bernard Siew (Assistant VP, Process & System Innovation, CAG) speaking at the Pre-Hackathon Workshop

A week before the hackathon on Saturday, 26 September, we organised a workshop to help the participants to understand how the airport operates, the major issues and opportunity areas.

Those who were looking to form or join a team got the chance to pitch their ideas. This workshop was followed by an exclusive Airport ‘Insider’ Tour, where 20 representatives from the registered teams got a tour of the transit area, led by the CAG Innovation Lab team.

Marisa from Team Rojaks pitching her idea at the Pre-Hackathon Workshop
Natalie Oh (Senior Associate, Process & System Innovation, CAG) leading participants during the Airport ‘Insider’ Tour

Ideation Workshop

The Ideation Workshop, held at IDA Labs in the National Design Centre on Friday, 2 October, was designed to help the teams solidify and develop their ideas and thus get a head start to the hackathon.

To do that, Adam and Derrick from UP Singapore introduced the Hackathon Canvas and took the teams through the process, that draws from Design Thinking principles.

Adam Lyle introducing the Hackathon Canvas

Hackathon Weekend

The teams had just two days to develop their prototypes. To assist them with the sprint, a number of CAG managers representing various business areas spent the morning of the first hackathon day with all the teams filling in their knowledge gaps and giving them guidance on making their ideas relevant to CAG’s business needs.

The start-up teams also benefited from the start-up mentors:

  • Dr Srinivas Reddy, Professor of Marketing at Lee Kong Chian School of Business, SMU;
  • Ken McHugh, General Manager Southeast Asia, Tigerspike; and
  • Galven Lee and Tomithy Too, from StarHub’s i3 — Innovation, Investment, Incubation.
(From left) Tomithy Too and Galven Lee with Team Nuisance

Those familiar with UP Singapore hackathons will know that Sunday always begins bright and early with pitch practice clinics. This time, we also invited Jon Hoel from The Pilot Project to coach the start-up teams.

(From left) Derrick Chiang and Jon Hoel with Team Gamurai

We’re really pleased that most teams took the feedback and improved by leaps and bounds their presentations to the senior CAG panel:

  • Jayson Goh, SVP Airport Operations Management, CAG
  • Steve Lee, CIO and SVP Technology
  • Jean Hung, SVP Landside Concessions Division, CAG
  • Ong Chee Chiau, SVP Changi East T5 Planning, CAG
  • Teng Hwee Onn, SVP Engineering & Specialised Systems, CAG
  • Ivan Tan, SVP Corporate and Marketing Communications, CAG
(From left) Jayson Goh, Lee Seow Hiang (CEO, CAG) and Teng Hwee Onn

We present to you the winning teams of the inaugural Changi Airport Hackathon:

Start-up Category

1st Prize: Trabble — An interactive e-concierge that complements the upcoming iChangi app 2.0 with a service that brings the customer service counter to the users. Travellers can ask the app questions regarding the services and facilities and receive instant answers (powered by Artificial Intelligence).

Team Trabble

2nd Prize: AirHead — An mobile app that provides travellers with important information (their gate number, boarding time, etc.). It also notifies them when it is time to board the plane and navigates them to the gate to help reduce their stress level.

Team AirHead

3rd Prize: timespacemagic — Automated Form Kiosk (AFK) that allows travellers to scan their boarding pass and passport to generate a prefilled immigration card. This helps those who have language difficulties and reduce human error, and saves them time.

Team timespacemagic

Open Category

1st Prize: Polka Dot — Travellers are offered multiple Wi-Fi names to connect to, each pointing to a different activity (for example, “Shop at Changi”). Connecting to any of these networks leads the traveller to a locally hosted webpage with the useful information, allowing him / her to get information on what Changi offers even without connecting to the Internet.

Team Polka Dot

2nd Prize (Tied): Camote — “Innov@Changi”, an online media streaming platform which gives travellers access to a wide collection of videos and eBooks. The app can recommend options that the user can finish within their transit time and also send an alert, so he / she doesn’t miss the flight.

Team Camote

2nd Prize (Tied): Vinturer — A locally-hosted web-based app to help travellers to find their way around airport, aimed at those who do not want to install a separate app. It will also recommend activities based on the time they have and their proximity to the activity or facility.

Team Vinturer

3rd Prize: YTK — An app helps travellers navigate through the airport. It asks users questions about their travel itinerary and, in turn, suggests activities they can do at the airport. There is also a chat box to communicate to customer service staff.

Team YTK

Honourable Mention: Rojaks — Kiosks in the airport connected to similar kiosks at major attractions around Singapore allows people at these locations interact with each other via video calls. If a pair of users have a meaningful connection, they can send each other “Oei” points, redeemable on Changi Rewards.

Team Rojaks

Honourable Mention: Stripes — “Proximate” delivers personalised, relevant and interesting content to travellers. Use the iChangi app to interact with Bluetooth-enabled screens that can be stationery or mobile.

Team Stripes

Best Design: SAPers — “Trip Magic” allows travellers to upload an image of their ticket or itinerary. The system auto-generates personalised, relevant and timely information on Changi Airport and their destination.

Team SAPers

A big “thank you” to CAG and the mentors for helping to make this hackathon a big success!

And of course, you talented, passionate and enthusiastic people in the community! Here is a really big virtual applause for you guys. See you happy hackers at future hackathons!

Like what you read? Give UP Singapore a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.