Johannesburg to Take Up the Fight Against Gender-based Violence Through Tech
Following a highly successful first hackathon in Cape Town, the U.S. Embassy in South Africa’s initiative, Hackathons for South Africa: Digital Solutions for Real World Challenges, will be coming to Johannesburg from the 28th to the 29th of March 2020. Hosted in partnership with the Tshimologong Precinct in Braamfontein, the event will see emerging software developers, IT professionals, trainers, civil society organisations, students, academics and professionals being split into teams to see how they can create innovative digital solutions to the problem of gender-based violence (GBV).
The scourge of GBV is something that affects communities in South Africa as well as the United States. By bringing together South African and American civic activists, coders, and creatives, this hackathon has the potential to develop solutions to help tackle the problem in both societies.
During the 36-hour long hackathon, attendees will explore what can be done to make communities safer, investigate how best to respond to threats, and produce tech that could save lives. To help take their concepts to the next level, they will also be paired with mentors who can provide expert guidance.
At the Cape Town event, ideas produced ranged from apps and wearable devices to panic buttons and educational games, but the winning concept came from a team called SmartWare which designed an app that helps to prevent incidents of GVB before they happen. The app offers a two-pronged approach to this by not only acting as an education platform for communities about GBV, but by also serving as a panic button for those in danger. When triggered, either by pressing the volume button on one’s cellphone while it is in idle mode or by dialling ***#, the phone will send a broadcast SMS every minute notifying first responders such as community policing forums and alarm companies of the victim’s location which will be obtained from the nearest cell tower. With the team revealing that police take over an hour to respond to a crime 42% of the time, the aim is to start getting help even before the crime has been committed.
As with SmartWare, the winning team in Jo’burg will walk away with R25,000, the runner up will receive R15,000 and there will be R5,000 in spot prizes up for grabs. What’s more, with implementation partner Silicon Cape being an ecosystem enabler for tech-enabled startups, the winner will be connected with accelerators, mentors and other relevant community members such as developers, angel investors and venture capitalists to help bring their solution to life. Amazon Web Services will also give the winning team access to the low cost, easy-to-use infrastructure needed to scale and grow via the AWS Activate programme which includes benefits like $10,000 worth of AWS Promotional Credits, valid for two years; AWS Business Support valued at $5,000 which is valid for up to one year and a solution architect technical whiteboarding session.
For more information, go to https://www.buildcommunityhackathons.co.za.