70 like-minded youths joined Total Defence-themed hackathon, ideas include making urban farming accessible for all

Empowering youths to contribute to Total Defence.

Nixon Tan | February 27, 2023, 11:29 PM

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70 like-minded youths from various educational institutions came together for a hackathon to think of innovative ideas to tackle food challenges through the use of technology earlier this month.

They took part in YouthXHack, a Total Defence-themed hackathon organised by Cyber Youth Collective (CYC), a division of Cyber Youth Singapore (CYS), on Feb. 9 and 10.

Participants competed in a group of four to five and winning teams bagged attractive prizes that were worth up to S$2,000.

The proposals will also be submitted to Total Defence Sandbox, a platform by Nexus Mindef, for consideration to be implemented.

Two 19-year-old students of Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Sneha George and Megha Pusti, were members of this group called the GreenyGrasshoppers.

If you have to hazard a guess of what their idea is about, you're right to think of something related to urban farming.


Making urban farming more accessible

While their group name was initially a joke, team GreenyGrasshoppers is serious about their idea that is to come up with a website and starter kits that can make urban farming more accessible.

Megha shared that the website would have a form for a person to share about their living arrangements.

A starter kit will be recommended before being delivered to their home, which can be used to grow vegetables or herbs.

The website will include tutorials on how to set up these starter kits.

In addition to customised starter kits, there will be a forum page on the website for people talk about urban farming.

Those who are new can post their questions while those with more experience can help provide answers.

The team also envisioned the website to include a page where people can learn how to level up their urban farming skills.

"This is a way to promote education and taking ownership of your food sustainability," Megha added.

Everyone can grow something at home

The end goal for the team is to get to a point where people can grow something at home, regardless the size of their home.

Megha shared that they would like to see their idea come to life and that they will work on creating more varieties of starter kits to cater to a wider audience.

More research will have to be done to improve their starter kit as well as to understand consumers' behaviours.

But given the number of gardening or urban farming enthusiasts in Singapore, the team is optimistic that their product will garner public interest.

"Currently, there are community gardens and there's already a pool of people interested, so I don't see it not working entirely," Sneha added.

Empowering youths to contribute to Total Defence

As the theme for the hackathon this year was "Together we keep Singapore strong", Sneha believes that out of the six Total Defence pillars, they covered social and psychological defence.

"By coming together as a community, we are stronger with a shared mindset, a shared accountability for sourcing food during times of crisis," she explained.

"For the psychological part, you know that you are supported. Even in times of crisis, with our online forum, people will never feel alone," Sneha adds.

For some of the participants, joining the hackathon was a step out of their comfort zone.

Sneha revealed that this was her first hackathon ever. She was initially hesitant about taking part because the hackathon seemed to be technical and data-driven.

But it was a journey worthwhile, as she was supported by her teammates and she contributed in her own ways.

While the team did not win the hackathon, they were happy for the other team of SUTD students who won.

The Chief Executive Officer of National Youth Council, David Chua, attended the closing ceremony of the event.

He said that he believes that youths have the ability to positively influence and make a difference to Singapore and he hopes the hackathon is a "stepping stone" for youths to play an active role in contributing towards Total Defence.

Aaron Ang, Chief Executive (Cyber Youth Collective), Cyber Youth Singapore, also said that he hopes youths will continue to use technology creatively for good to help increase our readiness for crisis and disruptions.

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Top photos via Nexus