Three young Jozi developers have been rewarded for their compelling digital ideas that will help the city solve its street address issues in the first GeoJozi Challenge.
The awards were made on international Geographic Information Systems (GIS) day, a worldwide initiative for users of geographic information systems technology to demonstrate applications that are making a difference in our society.
The absence of visible accurate street addresses and the lack of any street addresses in some areas is holding back Johannesburg in its drive to become a smart city. The City of Joburg, in partnership with Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) and mapping software company, Esri South Africa called on Johannesburg developers aged 30 years and younger to help. From 80 entries, ten finalists were selected and trained.
Thapelo Sekwena who won the challenge earned R150k for an app that uses gaming and crowdsourcing to reward users for submitting places that need addressing or validation.
Methembe Dlamini walked away with R100k for his app which allows residents to confirm their correct address and to report any issues to alert the city as well as other citizens such as high accident zones, potholes or high crime spots. Absalom Mpanze earned R50k for his app that takes advantage of someone’s unique position to generate a code for that position, and then allocates an address as a code.
Director for Corporate Geo-Informatics for the City of Johannesburg, Marcelle Hattingh, explained: “We had three goals for this challenge which were achieved: We wanted to emphasise the importance of a street addresses to have a high functioning inclusive society; to demonstrate the power of location-based technology and to develop GIS talent in our city.”
Prof. Barry Dwolatzky, Director of JCSE said: “The top three applied innovation, creativity and technology to their solutions. We look forward to seeing them grow, creating jobs for others and helping our city. They also win a year of membership with the Digital Innovation Zone at the Tshimologong Precinct in Braamfontein which provides working space and mentoring.”
Hattingh says, “Street addresses that are not clearly displayed or not displayed at all make it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to deliver essential services to residents of the city. An accurate visible street address can save a life. The finalists have now completed an intensive period of GIS training, as well as professional software practice, start-up and business modelling and social media training. This is a foundation that will propel their careers going forward.”
About the winners
Winner: Thapelo Lebo Sekwena is junior software developer at SAAB who holds a B.Sc. degree in computer science and mathematics from Northwest University. Partner Ganwell Banda also holds a B.Sc. degree.
He explains, “My app is called Redeem Jozi and it uses gaming and crowdsourcing. Once you open the app, it gets your location and then gives you a set of points without addresses in your region. It offers rewards for places that need addresses or validation which the user completes. Once you fill in these addresses, you get rewarded with 100MB of data if you are the first to complete 10 locations within 30 days. My next step is to refine the app and then I am going to focus on some of my other app development ideas.”
2nd: Methembe Dlamini is a Masters student in Computer Science at the University of Johannesburg.
Methembe describes his app, “FindMe is used on a mobile device. Once you register, you confirm your home address and this cross references with city data to confirm that your address is in fact correct. This allows you and the city to confirm your correct address. You are able to report any issues that need attention such a high accident zone, potholes or high crime spots. The app will alert the city and other citizens of these issues. I want my idea to be implemented to the benefit of the citizens of Johannesburg and other cities. It also allows you to call for help in emergencies – ambulance, accidents, fire or a natural disaster. The competition was intense because the other competitors were of a very high standard and we did a great deal of training to increase our knowledge of GIS.”
3rd: Absalom Mpanze is passionate about technology and currently works as a consultant at Standard Bank as an analyst developer.
Absalom explains, “I developed an app which takes advantage of your unique position to generate a code for that position and in that way it allocates an address as a code. I needed to upgrade my skills to solve the GeoJozi Challenge. The training and the competition helped me to learn how to develop a user-friendly android app. It was very competitive and the other developers were more experienced than I am. I really had to raise my game to reach their level. I now want to start my own business and implement my idea for public use.”