Young techies find solutions to problems

hack-jozi---textThe group IT Solutions presents the Township Economic App allowing small businesses to interact and connect with consumers. (Image: Ray Maota)

Science and technology are being used to solve everyday problems and in so doing improve society in the #Hack.Jozi Challenge. Winners will receive a financial boost to help bring their ideas to fruition.

The #Hack.Jozi Challenge is a boot camp for start-up digital entrepreneurs and its aim is to contribute towards fostering skills, innovation and entrepreneurship in the broad area of digital technology. It was established by the City of Johannesburg and its partners, Seed Academy and Joburg Centre for Software Engineering, to support capacity development, job creation and enterprise development.

Joburg has made R5-million available for #Hack.Jozi to support those start-ups who present the best ideas.

The challenge began in January with a call for proposals from tech-savvy people. These proposals were screened and the finalists were selected. They were mentored and assisted at Joburg’s digital hub in the heart of Braamfontein during a month of intense business training and technical hackathons. It all culminated in demo day at Sci-Bono in Newton, Johannesburg, on 18 June.

On the day, the 10 remaining teams pitched their ideas to the judges assigned with picking the best three.

Speaking at the launch earlier this year, Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau said: “#Hack.Jozi is for those people who want to make a difference in their respective communities by developing digital solutions to everyday problems.

“This programme is all about innovation with a heart. It is about smart business ideas that make a difference in communities across Johannesburg. It is also about driving digital business growth which forms a big part of our economic plans for the city.”

The winners will be announced on 30 June.

TECH-SAVVY ENTREPRENEURS

On the demo day, the room was filled with people who had ideas that would improve society.

Finalist Rendani Ramabulana, founder and developer at Tirisan Tech from Midrand, said his invention, the MuniCom app was about addressing people’s day-to-day struggles.

“I live in Midrand and we have a community Whatsapp group where we complain about issues the municipality isn’t addressing in the area. This is where the idea for MuniCom came about,” he said.

Using the app, residents will be able to report grievances to the ward councillor, posted in real time. They will be able to post photographs, with GPS co-ordinates, for example of burst water pipes.

Ramabulana said this would help to cut the time it takes the municipality to deal with such issues.

HEALTH CARE IMPROVEMENTS

Jessey Nkale from Diepsloot Kasi Hive demonstrated Phila, meaning “live”, a health care app.

Kasi Hive is a co-operative formed in November 2013 and established in March 2014 to offer value oriented services to youth in Diepsloot, a township in northern Johannesburg.

Through Phila, it hopes to lighten the load in government clinics by helping patients to book their appointments easily. This would mean they would not arrive at a clinic hoping for an appointment, but then get turned away because of over-crowding.

“Our creation will bring work to eight youngsters immediately who will have to administrate a call centre for the bookings,” said Nkale.

Out of the turnover over three years, the developers hoped to take 5% and subsidise youngsters who were interested in careers in the ICT and IT sector.

MOVING MADE EASY

Percy Lawrence of Move My Stuff presented an app for removal services. “Our app will immediately be able to give you a removal van or truck with your co-ordinates at the ease of your fingertips,” said Lawrence.

The app would target businesses and individuals, but would also cater for the informal sector.

“That guy in the ‘hood who uses his van for removals will also be in our database along with bigger companies like Stuttafords Van Lines to cater for all demographics,” explained Lawrence.

Key features of the app are a tracking number for the client’s items, meaning the client could monitor their movements. Also, for insurance, photographs of the items will be loaded on the system and their value determined.