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Bandwidth Barn In Cape Town Hosts Successful City Hackathon: #GovHackSA

by on 14/11/12 at 4:00 pm
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The #GovHackSA held at the BandwidthBarn in Woodstock, Cape Town on the 10th November 2012 and was a free, day-long coding marathon for developers and coders to create new and novel solutions to problems supplied to by the Western Cape Government (Department of Economic Development & ‘Tourism, and Department of Education), City of Cape Town and Wesgro.

The stimulus for the event was a need expressed by Alan Winde, MEC for Finance in the Western Cape Government, and taken forward by the volunteer GovHackSA team.

There were four challenges. Each participant could choose which challenge they wanted to work on, and teams were formed organically. Some chose to jump right into coding while others brainstormed ideas. At 13:00, Justin Coetzee of GoMetro shared his experiences as a startup in getting access to government work (PRASA/Metrorail), explained how government procurement processes worked, and shared his journey. Then it was back to work for the teams.

Over 40 enthusiast community members supported the day held at the Bandwidth Barn.

The Challenges Were Set And The Teams Formed:

Challenge 1: IT & Education.

Create a leader board competition for high school students that take an online quiz to test their problem solving ability. The aim is to improve problem solving skills and identify learners with the potential to become software developers and follow a career in IT. The problem was posed by Max Brock, Western Cape IT Curriculum Advisor and CapaCITi1000, a Cape IT Initiative to grow the pool of IT skills. Three teams worked on this problem, adopting very different approaches, that included customising existing Drupal modules, building on top of tech already developed by Bandwidth Barn startup iFunda, and another approach by a UWC team.

Challenge 2: Events App:

The challenge was based on a problem pitched by the Wesgro CEO, Nils Flaatten. He needed an events app that could solve a challenge with proactively gathering data and post-event information from social media on particular of all the events held in the Western Cape.

Challenge 3: “Fix My Street”.

The challenge was to create a local version of “fixmystreet” where you can report issues from potholes to broken lights which can notify the corresponding counsellor and streamline service delivery. Thembinkosi Siganda of Economic Development at the City of Cape Town highlighted the City’s commitment to the IT startup community via the Bandwidth Barn. The team grappled with the challenge that the opensource “FixMyStreet” code they planned to build on top of was developed in Perl and not in PHP as anticipated. .

Challenge 4. Fix My Red Tape.

Create an app which assists the Western Cape Government in delivering on its “Red Tape to Red Carpet” promise to reduce red tape. The goal was to create an app that allows business owners to report challenges with red tape eg getting tax clearance certificates, via social media and “in the moment”. This will assist the Department of Economic Development in getting data on what the problems are. The intention would be to then integrate this into the Red Tape to Red Carpet Call Centre to follow up.

According to Cape IT Initiative Executive Director, Jenny McKinnell, “the goal of GovHackSA is not to create a fully working application on one the day, but rather to make a positive start, and more importantly, to help government see that the local Western Cape IT community can develop applications that help government solve its problems using software. Ultimately though, the goal is to begin to build a cooperative, collaborative relationship between the Cape IT community and local and regional government that will create the win-win of government getting software that helps solve their problems in meeting citizen needs and the startup community getting access to government data and access to government as a customer.”

The Judging panel consisted of Andy Volk (Mxit) and Lelany Sommers (Blackberry), with input from Jenny McKinnell (CITI) (although she didn’t vote). The team that won was “Fix my Red Tape” . The winning group consisted of Tony Mwebaze, Peter Phillip and Timothy Mchabeleng. The runners up were from “Events App” (that “eventthing”) – Tim, Tracey, Philip and Jonathan.

There was a draw for attendance sponsored by Blackberry. Three Blackberry Playbook tablets were won by Tracey Baving, Kholofelo Moyaba and Motse Lehata.

The winners walked away with an opportunity to expand on their application with Government, be fast tracked into the Mxit Kickstart programme (if they develop their app on the MXIT platform), entry into StartUp weekend (which happens at the BandwidthBarn from 17 – 19 November) and the possibility of collaborating with government in making a difference to how services get delivered to citizens.

The #GovHackSA Hackathon provided a great environment for developers to compete amongst each other, understand government’s challenges, learn from one another, experiment with building on existing code and APIs, and see how fast they can develop applications – Lianne du Toit, organisor of #GovHackSA

The day was made possible by the dedicated individuals of the Silicon Cape Initiative, Bandwidth Barn, CITI, Blackerry, Mxit, Assignment 3, Col Cacchio’s, Start-up weekend, ODADI, Coding for Democracy and Cape Town Entrepreneurship Week.

We are looking at hosting more #GovHackSA events which gives like minded programmers, developers, designers and coders an opportunity to meet each other and learn about the challenges of government and helping solve them.

Ideate is one of South Africa's biggest business blogs, with a team of authors all of whom have had entrepreneurial experience. Ideate is read by entrepreneurs thinking BIG. Follow us on Twitter here. View more articles by Staff Reporter.

Tags: hacking, programming

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