In an effort to register development through innovation, Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) successfully partnered with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) http://ucc.co.ug/ throughout the months of February and May 2017 to implement activities leading to the Annual Communications Innovation Awards (ACIA) 2017 awards event. It was yet another rich knowledge generation and sharing opportunity for the RAN team to conduct the Human Centered Design training to all the UCC beneficiaries in 5(Central, Western, Eastern, Southern and Northern) regions of Uganda. This engagement opportunity brought together over 200 participants including teachers, (guiding their students to develop innovative solutions to address community challenges), District Educational Officers, and Head teachers, for Human Centered innovations. Throughout these activities Dr. Dorothy Okello, RAN Director Innovations supported UCC and the innovators as Chair of the multidisciplinary gender sensitive Panel of Judges.
The RAN team also facilitated the first ever 48 hours UCC Hackathon with 9 innovator teams (comprising of 36 hackers in total) but overall 100 participants including mentors, judges, panelists, organizers and media under the theme “Smart and Safe Transport Management”, May 24-25, 2017 at the Kampala Serena Hotel. These Hackers after a debrief at the RAN Innovation Lab the day before the hackathon actually took a bus ride through Kampala City to observe and engage with road users trying to further identify the pain points. This exercise aided actualization of the hacking process. The hackathon was searching for solutions that could effectively addresstwo (2) of Kampala’sgreatest transport challenges that include; Health, Safety & Insurance of the drivers, passengers and other road users within the city and the efficient Management of Traffic especially as the roads get narrower due to the increasing number of users (cars, motorbikes, pedestrians etc). The hackers were selected based on their ability to code and prior experience participating in hackathons. The mentors and panelists were selected from institutions that interact with the challenges and others involved in creating solutions. These included; KCCA, Uganda Police Traffic and Road Safety Department, SafeBoda, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), International Health Sciences University (IHSU), NC Bank, Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) among others. After 2days non-stop designing, prototyping and hacking, the 9 teams presented to a full panel of judges. the winners were
- Routes: a mobile app that allows a user to hitch a private car
- QuickTap; An automated fare collection system for public transport
- Traffic Assistant: A data collection and analysis tool for decision support and management on traffic related issues.
Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi, UCC Executive Director while closing the Hackathon shared that ”The amount of knowledge generated and shared in this room throughout these two days demonstrates the potential Uganda has for us to innovate and transform the communities. Let us join efforts to continuously support these young, creative and vibrant minds to realize their dreams”. I feel proud to see young people working so hard like these hackers, always do good and resources or money will follow you, he added. It was rewarding to note that the young innovators are indeed passionate about improving the living conditions in their communities. They exhibited high levels of commitment and concentration to what they had laid their minds and hands on. One of the innovators noted ”It is the first time that I get actual hands-on training on what is involved in the Innovation Process, I now know the don’ts, dos and MUST do in this process for example, the fact that the end users are as important as your idea itself thus the need to interact with potential end users immediately one conceives an innovative idea and thereafter continous as the idea is being developed. Thank you RAN Team for selflessly sharing all this knowledge with us”.
Additionally, under the leadership of Prof. William Bazeyo, Dean Makerere University School of Public Health and RAN Chief of Party, the RAN team also participated in the Final ACIA exhibition on Thursday May 25-26, 2017 (where some innovators currently receiving incubation support from RAN also shared about their solutions). These activities culminated into the ACIA 2017 Gala on Friday 26th May 2017 where the RAN team engaged in high level networking with Government Officials including Uganda’s Minister for ICT Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, Private sector-Airtel, Huawei telecommunications company, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA), participating Primary and Secondary schools and the Media etc. Hon. Tumwebaze shared that ”It is exciting to physically engage with all the brilliant and creative minds around here, Uganda’s future lies in the hands of innovators and the Government of Uganda is more than willing to support all of you to innovate beyond what you have done for the ACIA 2017 awards”. The RAN team was also greatly acknowledged and appreciated for the active partnership noting that it was a value add to hold a Hackathon as part of the ACIA event referring to the 9 potentially transformative solutions generated from the 48 hours hacking session. This engagement also additionally powered RAN’s publicity given that the awards ceremony brought together over 250 national, international and multi-sectoral participants yet the engagement during the Innovation Exhibition too was open and rich. As Prof. Bazeyo recognized the Digital Content Award category winners during the ACIA 2017 awards event, he noted that ”After the RAN Team engaged with the 9 innovation teams during the 48 hours Hackathon, we observed that these young innovators further need fully fledged capacity building to grow the solutions they are working on and themselves too in this competitive world. RAN pledges this support moving forward”.
The conversation was shared live on Twitter #Hack4SmartTransport.
The Hackathon Proceedings were also shared online, accessible on;
The Teams which participated in the Hackathon included the following;
1. Team Arvana- “Traffic Assistant” :Data Collection on Traffic Patterns-2nd Runner-Up (An easy to implement proposed solution, Data mining is a big need yet it can also be done and it is also an applicable solution).
2. Team Dynamite- “Right way”; Standardizing testing and assessment of drivers.
3. Team Quick tap- “Quick tap”: Automated fare collection-1st Runner-up (There is dire need for this solution, it is applicable and the presentation was clear and concise).
4. Team SSK “SSK App” :Handheld device for air pollution detection.
5. Team Phone Control “Phone Control App”: Mobile Application for Barring Calls while driving.
6. Team Novus Terra- “Safe Spot”: Crowd sourcing platform too rate and determine safe public transport.
7. Team Gray Stacks- “City Check App” :Facilitates quick emergency response at accident scenes.
8. Team Transpo-XL- “Parking Finder”: Find parking in real-time.
9. Team SONET- “Ruts”: Mobile Application that allows the user to ride along in a private car-Winners with a brilliant idea also presented concisely and clearly.
”Solutions through Innovation”