The #GovHackSA ran as part of an official World Design Capital Event in May 2014 at the offices of 22seven in Cape Town. It was a free, day-long coding marathon for novice and experienced developers and coders to create new and novel solutions to problems posed to #GovHackSA by the City of Cape Town.
The event took months of planning with City Ministers and Councilmen to open data and create usable data sets that the teams could intergrate and use in their applications. This is a follow on from the new Open Data policy that is in draft stages of being passed in parliament.
There were 3 challenges set, each participant could chose which challenge they wanted to work on, and teams were formed organically. The keynote speakers for this edition was Gertus Byleveld from Journey who highlighted their partnership with Silicon Cape and encourages all developers to turn their applications in businesses.
#GovHackSA were also lucky to have the USA based team from SendGrid who are scoping out South Africa to see the current entrepreneurial and tech landscape. “Cape Town Community giving feedback to city government. More important, Government representatives show up to listen” quoted by Tim Falls from SendGrid. There were three 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. Over 40 enthusiast community members supported and attended the hackathon at the offices of 22seven in Cape Town.
Mentors from coding and business backgrounds attended to help coach and facilitate the teams during the day. “Technologies ability to significantly improve and disrupt government services while radically reducing costs has to be one of the biggest opportunities in Africa today, I hope to bring some of my learnings building one of Africa’s largest e-commerce companies to the event” by Daniel Guasco – ex Groupon.
The challenges for the day were:
- Challenge One – Last Mile for the Base of the Pyramid -Collaboration with World Design Capital Project #WDC381 to develop a mapping solution to market and distribute life-changing products, such as solar lights, clean cook stoves or water filters, that are designed to improve lives of those who need these products most.
- Challenge Two – Cape town Residents App – How can we assist the City of Cape Town to showcase council facilities, their location, availability and cost, to make local resources and spaces easily accessible to the public. Challenge Three – The Active Citizen -How can we encourage citizens to look to and rely on each other for solutions to community issues? How do we develop an interface that allows people to share information and create a talking community?
According to Google’s Enterpirse Country Manager, Brett St Clair, “At Google we see all Enterprises moving very quickly to the cloud, we are pleased to partner with GovHackSA to help develop the Cloud Ecosystem in South Africa and ensure that we develop world-class abilities by sharing Google’s Born in the Cloud experiences” The Judging panel consisted of Brett St Clair (Google), Tim Andrews (DotModus), Vuyisa Qabaka (The Barn) and Councillor Garreth Bloor (City of Cape Town).
The winning group “Pulse” who worked on the “Active Citizen” challenge consisted Alek Gallo, Bruce Bassett, Riccardo Iovino, Michael Graaf and Coenraad Loubser who created a mobile micro-polling platform. The winners walked away with an opportunity to expand on their application with Government and fast tracking how applications can be build with Government and prizes from Google. A complimentary prize to the runner-ups who also worked on the “Active Citizen” were given a voucher to attend the Lean Startup Program which is being launched in Cape Town on the 31st.
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, Mlabs, 22seven, South African Breweries, 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.