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Challenge issued to hack simple Jozi problems

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Potential “tech-preneurs” who come up with technology solutions to everyday Jozi problems stand the chance of turning their digital ideas into viable business opportunities at this year’s #Hack.Jozi Challenge.

All they have to do is enter the #Hack.Jozi Challenge before entries close on Friday, 25 March 2016. The #Hack.Jozi Challenge is a boot camp for startup entrepreneurs and aims to contribute towards fostering skills, innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital technology space.

Ravi Naidoo, Executive Director for Economic Development for the City of Johannesburg, says that there are some excellent entries which have been received so far, but he would like to see many more. “We are calling on people who live, work and play in the City of Joburg and who have an idea about how technology can be used to make a difference in our city to enter.

“It is the technologically-savvy young citizens of this wonderful and complex city that we live in that are likely to be closest to the real kinds of issues and challenges that people face. They may well have a winning idea that the #Hack.Jozi Challenge will help them take forward into a money-making enterprise. No idea is too big or too small.”

To enter, visit www.hackjozichallenge.co.za and complete the entry form. Entries should address challenges in the following categories: public spaces/tourism; smart infrastructure, economic development and general.

Three entrants will walk away with a total of R1.7 million: R1 million for the overall winner of the 2016 #Hack.Jozi Challenge and R350,000 each for the two runners-up. They will be each be supported by a business mentor around how best to use the prize money and accelerate their idea into a successful enterprise.

The top 20 selected entrants will receive additional business mentorship. The top 10 will win a one-year free membership of the well-known ICT Hub in Braamfontein, which is a Wits University initiative under the leadership of Professor Barry Dwolatzky.

The top one hundred entrants as start-up entrepreneurs will attend a special entrepreneurship and business training boot camp geared to helping them develop their great digital ideas into possible business opportunities.

#Hack.Jozi Challenge is a project of the City of Johannesburg and the JCSE (Joburg Centre for Software Engineering) at Wits University. Its success in its launch year in 2015 saw the City of Johannesburg commit R5 million for the second #Hack.Jozi Challenge this year.

“This competition is designed to accelerate early stage ICT startups. It supports capacity development, job creation and enterprise development in our City,” says Naidoo.

“But let us remember that it is about real people and real challenges – as well as about boosting entrepreneurship in the broad area of digital technology and promoting much-needed local economic development,” says Naidoo.

Applicants can be individuals or teams, one of whom must live in the Johannesburg area. Government employees are not eligible.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, 25 March 2016. A committee will select the winners. The winners will be selected after two elimination rounds.  The city will not take any equity in any of the businesses.

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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