This 'Hyper-Localised' Homegrown App Might Persuade You From Google Maps
NCS, a subsidiary of Singtel Group, has developed an app called Breeze that’s targeted at making life easier and more interesting for drivers. In a nutshell, it does this through simplifying parking decisions for drivers and promotes walking explorations using AI, video, data and navigation technology.
Find out things you never knew about a local neighbourhood
On the latter, its first pilot district is Tiong Bahru, where we got to experience first-hand at a media briefing last week. A community initiative by NCS in collaboration with Tiong Bahru Community Centre and Tiong Bahru Market Hawkers’ Association, the app has been enhanced and hyper-localised with additional features and content to encourage the discovery of the Tiong Bahru precinct and promote walking explorations with custom maps of points of interest and other features. NCS plans to roll this out to more districts in the near future.
What is surprising is that the beta app is already live and ready to be used for its navigation and parking functions since April this year; it is not just a prototype. I can see myself and many others using this app just for the ease of finding parking alone.
Need help with parking? Breeze makes it a… breeze
So how does it intelligently tell how many parking lots are available at a location, for example? This is where NCS has put in the hard work in the form of the ‘Breeze Box’. It’s essentially a camera placed on a high pole that ‘watches’ the road. Installed at the entrance and exit of car parks, it ‘counts’ the number of cars going in and out of the car park to determine the remaining lots using AI. Although cars that entered illegally via the exit initially caused mis-counts, the Box is now intelligent enough to circumvent this after several improvements. This information is then pushed to drivers real-time before they even start their drive. If the car park is full, the app is clever enough to propose another parking space that’s possibly also cheaper.
How about a Singaporean navigation voice? Yep, you got it with Breeze
In terms of navigation, Breeze incorporates the first “AI local-accented” navigation guide (by none other than Siti Khalijah) so you’ll finally be able to hear a fellow Singaporean guide you to your destination.
Breeze provides drivers the fastest or cheapest routes as traffic conditions and ERP prices change. It also offers real-time views of traffic across all highways and checkpoints, thereby helping drivers make informed decisions about their travel routes. It’s helpful that all available government data points have been made available to NCS, which has essentially integrated all of it into a useful app.
Besides the Tiong Bahru pilot, Breeze already features custom maps of local points of interest, including hiking trails, local eats such as Roz Pho’s, Lennard Yeong’s East and West Makan Picks and - get this - locations of durian stalls. Somebody at NCS must be a durian lover.
Event-specific and special zone maps, such as school zones, are also available, including the recent Singapore Night Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival.
Is it better than Google Maps or Waze?
NCS says Breeze is like wearing a ‘different shoe for a different occasion’. It thinks it doesn’t compete with other apps but complements them.
Personally, after using the app a couple of times, I can see how it would really help when I’m desperate to find parking when it’s crowded, or when I want to find the cheapest parking location. Previously, I’ve had to manually search for it myself and it was always a long-drawn, hit-and-miss process. Google Maps and Waze do not have this functionality at this level of sophistication, for sure.
Being someone who gets bored on weekends, it’s refreshing to also be able to learn new things about a familiar area and that’s where the app comes in handy. Especially when it comes to entertaining my 3 year old son - finding the nearest playgrounds has never been easier!
Great, how do I download it?
Breeze can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store and is available for free. For more information, visit https://breeze.com.sg/.