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One of Asia’s premier design festivals that champions design thought leadership
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Good Design Research - Challenge Statements

12 min read
Address these challenge statements v4

Keen to explore how design can harness emerging technologies to create positive change?  If you are inclined to delve deeper into this area of exploration, we invite you to consider the Good Design Research initiative. Below, you will find a series of challenge statements that can inspire you with ideas on how to design for a better future. 

Challenge Statements from our partners


AECOM is the world’s trusted infrastructure consulting firm, working with clients from the private and public sectors to solve complex challenges. AECOM helps cities around the world to manage climate crisis risks on various fronts. These resilience projects include embedding climate resilience across aviation assets and operations as well as supporting essential adaptation and flood protection for city infrastructure.

Challenge Statement + Context

How might we leverage emerging technology to protect Singapore against potential climate disasters to develop more effective mitigation or adaptation solutions?

Cities want to be confident in the resiliency of their critical infrastructure – utilities, transport, emergency services – particularly during climate crisis. AECOM helps cities around to world to manage climate crisis risks.

Singapore has been feeling the impact of global climate change in the form of rising temperatures, increased levels of rainfall and rising sea levels.

As a low-lying island, Singapore is particularly at risk due to climate change. Increased rainfall and sea level rises could see areas such as East Coast Park completely flooded, while higher temperatures could affect Singapore’s natural biodiversity.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of examples detailing how climate change already impacts Singapore and the region. These could be starting points in exploring more effective solutions that enable this country to adapt to or mitigate the effects of climate change.

Higher Rainfall & Sea Levels

Rainfall has become more intense in recent years. The annual rainfall total for Singapore has increased to an average rate of 67 mm per decade from 1980 to 2019.

The mean sea level in the Straits of Singapore has also increased at the rate of 1.2mm to 1.7mm per year in the period 1975 to 2009. As a low-lying island, the rise in sea level poses the most immediate threat to Singapore. Much of our nation lies only 15 m above the Singapore Height Datum, with about 30 per cent of our island being less than 5 m above the Height Datum.

Rising Temperatures

From 1980 to 2020, the annual mean temperature increased from 26.9°C to 28.0°C. This could put the natural biodiversity of Singapore’s plants and animals at risk, as this alters our ecosystem’s natural processes such as soil formation, nutrient storage and pollution absorption.

Climate Disasters in the Region

In 2001, the first recorded cyclone near the equator, Typhoon Vamei, swept north of Singapore and caused major flooding in the region. It is uncertain whether such tropical cyclones near the equator will occur more frequently in the future.


What are we looking out for?

Designers are encouraged to research on/ investigate one or more of the following: 

  • Identify and/or develop emerging technology to analyse, prevent, and minimize the risk associated with climate disasters related to extreme heat, rising sea levels, and heavy rainfall
  • Harness emerging technology to raise awareness of climate crisis conditions and change/nudge behaviours of the general public towards more sustainable outcomes.
  • Explore how the tools may be used by and/or impact stakeholders (co-creators, curators, and collaborators) of designers’ choosing.

Emerging technologies could broadly refer to digital tools like digital twins, generative technologies, AR, VR, XR, IoT, 3D printing and more.

We are looking for design proposals and/or prototypes that:

  • Develop or explore how emerging technology can chart a better future in the face of increasingly challenging climatic conditions for critical infrastructure (e.g. highways, railways, electric power networks, dams, port facilities, hospitals), and ultimately for residents in Singapore.
  • Use research, data, and design methodologies to reveal insights that can inform or be adapted for Singapore.
  • Have potential to scale to broader audience in Singapore, Asia and globally

For enquiries, please contact Claudio Trucco from AECOM:

2. Mount Elizabeth Hospital

Mount Elizabeth Hospital (MEH) is a member of IHH Healthcare, the world’s second-largest hospital group. For more than 40 years, MEH has served the Asia-Pacific as a medical hub, earning the trust of patients from all over the region with our strategic pairing of medical talents with up-to-date technology. We leverage innovations in medical technology and diagnostic tools to deliver optimal clinical outcomes and exceptional personalised service.

Challenge Statement + Context

How might we use emerging technologies to enhance our patient care journey so that we may improve healthcare outcomes?

In a fast-paced hospital environment , effective and efficient communication between departments is pertinent for providing timely and quality patient care. At a time when Singapore is facing shortages in hospital beds and manpower, it is crucial to close the gaps in efficiency to reduce bed turnaround time and accommodate more patients who require the dedicated care.

Mount Elizabeth Hospital prides itself as a healthcare service provider that strives for excellent patient care with our highly-skilled specialists and nursing care. Through the decades, expectations are on the rise for us to uplift service standards and reduce waiting time. With processes remaining largely manual (e.g. reliance on phone calls and hardcopy memos), we are continuously plagued by long waiting times, miscommunicated requests between stakeholders and patients being uninformed. These means of communication can be largely inefficient, time-consuming, and prone to errors, which may result in delays and divert the attention away from patient care. Hence, there is a real need for efficient communication – both between departments and from the hospital to patients. How can we then tap on emerging technologies to keep our patients and next-of-kins in the know throughout the patient journey? What can be done to relieve our healthcare workers’ time consumption on manual communication? How else can we strive to ensure ‘Patients First’ without causing our staff to burnout from additional processes?

What are we looking out for?

Designers are encouraged to research on/ investigate one or more of the following:

  • Ways emerging technologies could be used to
    • Ease patients’ anxieties and provide reassurance throughout the patient care journey
    • Reduce waiting time. For example, better predictions for waiting time, re-distribution of admission hours depending on peak periods
    • Improve communications with patients and their next-of-kins without losing the human touch.

Emerging technologies applicants could include, but are not limited to: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS), chatbots.

We are looking for design proposals and/or proof of concepts that: 

  • Are interoperable and could potentially interface with existing systems to shape a seamless patient journey (from outpatient specialist clinics to post-discharge services). We are not looking for the development of standalone applications / systems.
  • Take a patient-centred approach in incorporating technology, retaining the human touch with patients and their next-of-kins while augmenting healthcare efforts and improving outcomes.
  • Create more effective, user-centred communication systems for healthcare workers to replace the current manual ones while ensuring accurate and efficient transfer of information

For enquiries, please contact Chia Pei Fen:

Open Challenges

In all the buzz surrounding the metaverse and with all the new AI tools now at our disposal, it’s easy to lose focus of us – the humans – that will be inhabiting these phygital worlds, and interacting with AI systems that may be beyond our ability to comprehend. We’re looking for designers who haven’t forgotten about the human, and want to ensure this seemingly inevitable future is inclusive and sustainable for everyone.

Challenge Statement

How might we integrate our physical and digital environments to create meaningful and seamless experiences for working, learning, playing or social interaction?

Many may see the metaverse as just the virtual environments that our digital avatars inhabit. However, this is just one aspect of the larger picture of a future where our physical and digital lives will seamlessly converge to bring people, spaces, and things together to create “phygital” experiences that will be meaningful, useful, and valuable in ways we can only begin to imagine.

Opportunities abound in connecting technology, people, and processes through software applications, wearable smart devices, online communities, virtual environments, activities that blur the line between physical and digital, and more. There is a clear role for design to harness emerging technologies as a force for good, and inform the development of these technologies so that they are open, available, and beneficial to everyone.


What are we looking out for?

We are looking for designers to explore: 

  • Novel phygital experiences marrying technology, systems design and human-centred considerations that improve quality of life in the areas of working, learning, playing, or social interaction.
  • New business models that take advantage of the qualities of phygital experiences and their potential applications.
  • Designs that address the negative effects of technology and enable a healthier, more inclusive and more sustainable phygital world.

For enquiries, please contact

Challenge Statement

How might we imbue ethical considerations and human-centredness into generative technology powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

In an AI-powered future, it becomes even more important to preserve the human qualities of creativity, social intelligence, and empathy. AI might be a useful tool for creation, but it is our role to ask the right question and frame the problem, to account for emotional subtleties and nuances in the process, to uphold ethical standards, and be aware of encoded biases when making or using AI-generated content. When almost everyone can be a designer, we take on the collective responsibility of ensuring that thisfuture is fair, inclusive, and sustainable for everyone.

What are we looking out for?

We are looking for designers to explore: 

  • Ways of building ethical considerations into AI-assisted design processes.
  • Enhancing efficiencies and productivity of current systems or design processes in an equitable and sustainable way.
  • Articulating and defining the new role of designers as curators, not just creators, and ways of working with AI to bring human-centredness back into generative design.

For enquiries, please contact

Interested to apply for the Good Design Research Grant?

Applications for the Good Design Research (GDR) grant run twice a year usually in April and October. Get notified of launch dates when calls for applications launch.

Good Design Research Resources

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Singapore’s highest honour for designers and designs across all disciplines
One of Asia’s premier design festivals that champions design thought leadership
National Design Centre