Growing a sustainable community – From IDEAS to reality
By Grade 11 and 12 students, Vedant and Aman, Dover Campus
9 February 2022
UWCSEA Dover’s Grade 11 and 12 students, Vedant and Aman, recently collaborated with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) under the guidance of our IDEAS Hub to create an elderly marketplace for skills and jobs called S-Lab, and that includes a project called GrowLah which allows the elderly to set up and maintain gardening products that the team sells including hydroponic systems.
Working towards a sustainable community and future
"After meeting with TCS, we decided to work on a project in relation to hydroponics called Growlah. The idea was to build a platform from which Singapore's seniors could set up and maintain hydroponic systems across the nation and thus help Singapore move to greater food security, provide employment and income for Singapore's Seniors, and create a greater sense of community. The app would have numerous features that together created a holistic experience for users. It allowed the sale of hydroponic systems, nutrient solutions, seeds and more, and this process of purchase was aided by a smart scan feature that would scan your area and determine the best configuration for you based on factors like size and lighting.
We also had additional features like a newsfeed and video guide, and a scan-and-spot feature that would scan a plant and tell you information like what it's called, its best-growing conditions, and if it's available to buy for your own hydroponic system. Our main feature of the app was the ability to display information about your hydroponic system including its PH, light, temperature and humidity, and provide you alerts if anything goes wrong. We did this through IOT sensors that connected to an ESP-32 which streamed data to a Firebase database.
Since then, we quickly realised that the process to launch for TCS to individual consumers was much harder than to schools or centres, and we found these larger organisations would prefer a web dashboard to an app. Around February 2021, we began working on a web dashboard for these customers that would streamline the process and make it as simple to use for a school or corporate. With this dashboard, we set up systems at UWCSEA Dover, North Vista Primary School and Singapore Science Centre."
This has led me to create projects that all support my community, regardless of whether that may be the elderly, students or the underprivileged.
How does GrowLah work?
Users select their favourite system from the app, allowing them to view it in their space, and are also able to use other functions like scanning plants or flowers to identify and learn about them, news feeds and video guides, and monitoring existing systems. As a whole, this initiative creates employment for the elderly to set up and maintain these systems, creating greater community connections, and encouraging a sustainable lifestyle. Vedant is currently working with an educational institute in Singapore to create their website, booking systems and further online products.
In addition to the project, Vedant and Aman aim to provide for our community in a sustainable way. Setting up hydroponic systems at senior or specially-abled care centres, provides an exciting activity for the residents and teaching them something new, and fund this through the sale of hydroponic systems and the sensors to consumers.
"We called this GiveLah. The first place we decided to set up a system was at the Home Nursing Foundation Buangkok, in their active ageing care hub. We are currently looking for other care centres to collaborate with us and then will start selling to consumers."
The learning curve
We have learnt a lot throughout the whole process. We've not only gained technical skills in app/web development and learnt how to create a fully-functional, product that can be launched, but also how to work with corporates or clients to try and deliver a solution. We learnt a great amount of resilience, especially due to the constant delays due to COVID and TCS.
The IDEAS Hub really made this all possible by seeing our previous project and then putting us in touch with TCS. Nicholas has also been of great help in helping us learn how to grow the plants in the system and how to fix it if anything went wrong. His immense help has been instrumental in getting this project off the ground.
UWCSEA’s values “providing a challenging, holistic, values-based education with an emphasis upon academic achievement, service to others, environmental stewardship, teamwork and leadership” plays a strong influence for Vedant as he shares this on his website.
“This emphasis on service and environmental stewardship has massively shaped my own behaviours and values. One of the primary drivers I think of whenever I sit down to begin a new project is the user: Does this benefit my community? Does it empower the under-supported? Does it aim for equality? This has led me to create projects that all support my community, regardless of whether that may be the elderly, students or the underprivileged. A large part of my focus recently has led me to create a lot of elderly centred solutions.”
To find out more about their project, visit their website.