Smart void decks, may or may not be so smart at all

by - May 03, 2019

These days everything comes with a ‘smart’ function and even a smart void deck. Yes, you read that right!

You must be wondering what is ‘Smart Void Deck’. It is a creation of the accessible space that connects residents with start-ups right below their own homes. It is initially introduced by Mr. Yacob Ibrahim, the former Communications and Information (MCI) minister, during the Budget 2019 speech. He mentioned the need to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit among other Singaporeans. The ‘smart void deck’ may be applicable to Housing Development Board (HDB) flats but it won’t necessarily applicable to Executive Condominium (EC) in Singapore.

Mr. Yacob Ibrahim suggested that to convert those spaces into maker for Singaporean heartlanders which is also a comfortable place where anyone can go the tinker and fix some things. It is where everyone to create, to meet and discuss new ideas and solutions for the community.

Will it be conducive?
Though it is a great idea for start-ups that elevate their exposure and awakens the sleeping creativity of most Singaporean residents which may seem like benefiting both parties. To be honest, not really as the other HDB residents who are not interested in this initiative which will remain no matter what. The residents may suffer further more than what they have bargained for. It’s foreseen that it will tinker and fix things could generate a lot of noise, even the creative discussions, and brainstorming sessions. The idea of a conducive environment for start-ups may not be conducive to the families who are living their lives.

Prosper the family-owned businesses
The family-owned business or stores may gain more business and customers, thanks to the smart void decks initiative. This is due to more than usual amount of residents will be around and they will be at some point want some snacks and refreshments including the start-ups need to stock up its pantry as well. Mama shops may not be the only businesses that can prosper to start-up scene in HDBs. The elderly and stay-at-home moms can earn some extra income too.

Imagine our cleaning uncles and aunties will not need have to travel far to reach their workplaces as it will just be around the neighborhood. Less hassle for the uncles and aunties, more help for start-ups. Besides, once their kids are in the school, some stay-at-home moms will have the opportunity to venture out of their homes and into the maker spaces to find a new job or learn a new skill.

Reputation for start-ups
Usually, start-ups comprised young men and women who are hunger for success and change in the world. They prefer free spirited environment rather than corporate demeanor. Whether they are liberal in terms of their work place, HDB void decks may not be suitable for them. As we all know, the void decks are usually near garbage chutes, metal bike racks and kids’ playgrounds and even if it is clean up, the residential community will not change. Apart from that, setting up shops in HDB void deck may not please the investors’ eyes, making it to look cheap and formidable.

Lesser space for community activities
Void decks are usually used for community activities and Residents’ Committee organises joint activities with different HDB blocks. You can often see neighborhood kids play few rounds of soccer or sometimes playing tag. The elderly gets to enjoy some benefits of void decks and a Senior Citizen’s Corner was setup and partitioned for their own use. Today, the Senior Citizens gather around their shared spaces to play their table games or some chit chats in the afternoon. It is also a common scene where the Malays held their weddings or the Chinese held their wakes or funerals in the void deck.

Don’t forget that when the void deck is commercialized, parking lots will be issue to the residents and what’s even worse is that the parking spaces in HDB are limited. Parking rates are not cheap either. Although after working hours, parking lots should not be an issue but HDB residents with cars may find this a bit of annoyance.

If the void decks are being commercialized, pretty sure the residents are going to be unhappy about it as their recreational activities may get disrupted. However, with the proper regulations and impose new rules where both residents and businesses can agree with.

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