Khaw: Solve 'daily irritations' together

WHEN it rains, residents in many Housing Board (HDB) flats encounter wet floors inside their units, caused by strong winds.

These winds sometimes bring rainwater into their units through the gap underneath their front doors.

To address this problem, HDB has come up with a solution: put up roller screens in strategic places.

But there could be better, cheaper solutions, said Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan on his blog, Housing Matters, yesterday.

In his latest blog post titled Solving Daily Problems, Mr Khaw outlined how the expertise of both the public and private sectors can be tapped into to solve what he described as "common daily irritations".

For example, the problem of potential danger when putting laundry out to dry, which requires arm strength.

He wrote: "Many of the problems faced by us are unique to the tropics. Few First World cities have our hot and humid condition."

Adding that these problems are unlikely to be found in the West, he said: "If we can solve these problems and remove (them), many residents will have a better quality of life."

Solutions to such problems could also have a wide application in other cities in the tropics, and small to medium-sized enterprises in Singapore which can develop effective solutions would have business opportunities in the region, Mr Khaw said.

He said: "The question is, how? The solutions for these common irritations must be effective, sustainable, scalable and preferably low-cost."

While HDB has a research unit, the Building Research Unit, which looks into coming up with innovative solutions to these problems, Singapore can also tap on the expertise and creativity of educational institutions, teachers, students, hobbyists, and handymen with practical ideas, he said.

Mr Khaw said he has asked Minister of State for National Development, and Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan to lead an initiative which will set aside money, call for ideas from the public and market players, fund promising ideas, conduct pilot studies in some flats and get them assessed by residents.

If found to be practical, they will be replicated in other estates. To be useful, these ideas must be "buildable and maintainable", he said.

Mr Khaw added: "I told Mr Lee that this is a marathon, a long-term process of public engagement and a continual search for better ideas to enhance our lives.

"It is not a sprint."

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