South Africa: FindMyTaxi wins big at hackathon


WhereIsMyTransport recently announced the availability of the world’s only open platform for integrated transport data in emerging cities. Cape Town is the first city to have data for ALL transportation modes available. The next step would be to utilise this data to address the city’s transport challenges and empower users to take advantage of the opportunities that it presents.

WhereIsMyTransport, the Bandwidth Barn, KAT-O, and Women in Tech hosted a hackathon in Cape Town at the weekend (3-6 March), which was aimed at interrogating the data, creating solutions and products that not only increased the use and modes of public transport in Cape Town, but also empower Capetonians to travel further and experience more of the city.

“This hackathon was our first to showcase what can be done with integrated transport data, and the power of an open platform. It formed part of the Global Public Transport Hackathon Series, and teams could enter 4 categories: Integrated Mobility, Healthy Mobility, Inclusive Mobility and Future Mobility. The overall winning team FindMyTaxi, won an all-expenses paid trip to the 62nd UITP Global Public Transport Summit, taking place later this year in Montreal,” explains Devin de Vries, Co-founder WhereIsMyTransport.

“I’ve been dreaming of this day, and this hackathon, for a long time. When I moved to Cape Town, I gave up my car. I wanted to be able to live without it. I’m so glad that we’ve had the opportunity to create something that can help others do the same.” -Emma Phiri, FindMyTaxi.

Microsoft invested in the event as part of its business strategy and commitment to changing lives through partnerships and development initiatives.

“It is through the use of the data gathered by WhereIsMyTransport that we, as active corporate citizens, are able to address some of the real challenges faced in our public transport sector. The use of data, and open data for that, has the potential to assist and guide the transformation of all sectors. Innovative solutions developed by participating hackers has a vast potential to be tapped for the benefit of people, business and the economy,” says Riedwaan Bassadien, Open Source Lead at Microsoft SA.

Winning teams/ categories:

  • Grand Prize and Future mobility Winner: FindMyTaxi

FindMyTaxi is an ambitious system to provide an Uber-like experience for minibus taxi users and make off-peak taxi operations more efficient. By connecting drivers, passengers, the WhereIsMyTransport platform, and a chatbot, users are able to receive real-time information about upcoming taxis, and drivers are notified of demand enroute. The team focused this weekend on the passenger-side innovation, a chatbot in Facebook Messenger that shares pertinent journey information with the user without needing to download any new apps.

FindMyTaxi was created by Emma Phiri, Sam Beckseeinger, Henny Keyzer, Zizipho Mzuzwana, and Lilitha Moni. Zizipho and Lilitha are learners in the Code4CT program, which teaches grade 10 and 11 girls to code.

  • Category Winner: Integrated Mobility: Team Mobz

Mobz is a social platform that encourages groups to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. It generates diverse journeys for friends planning to meet up at a specific location, allowing them to choose trips with multiple stops (‘daytripper’), trips that pick up more and more people as they go (‘snowball’), and several other social travel patterns. Mobz can also coordinate mass journeys to large public events, such as joining together those using the same mode (e.g. cycling) or coming from the same area.

Mobz was created by Christiaan van Zyl, Nick Talbot, Senka Hadzic, and Grant Stephens

  • Category Winner: Healthy/Inclusive Mobility: GoWell

GoWell aims to empower public transport riders to be vigilant, but not vigilantes. The mobile app features tips and tricks for staying safe on public transport, and allows riders to anonymously report thefts, hijackings, and other crimes that occur to them while travelling. It also has community features to help riders stay together and protect each other. GoWell intends the data to be used by public safety officers and city officials to respond to crimes and create a transport safety strategy that can make it safer for everyone.

GoWell was created by Kat Townsend, Delena Malan, Chante Van Der Walt, Julia Ranzani and Chelsea Lewis.

Chelsea Lewis is a learner in the Code4CT program.

  • Implementation Readiness Prize: Rydr

Could you find the love of your life while riding public transport, saving money and the environment while you do it? Rydr, the Tindr of transport, thinks you can. A mobile app that pairs commuters with others going their direction, Rydr aims to make public transport more appealing (after all, it’s lonely inside your car!) and full of human connections.

Rydr was created by Miki von Ketelhodt and Nadim Rifai

  • Best Design Prize: Whizzherd

Whizzherd draws from the natural occurrence of the herd mentality, and the tendency of animals to follow one another, to create a real-time information source for commuters using the train or bus. Rather than waiting for tracking devices to be fitted to vehicles and real time information provided by the operators, Whizzherd uses the GPS enabled phones in commuter’s pockets to provide real-time information—and other tips, like crowded cars or malfunctioning doors—to other like-minded commuters.

Whizzherd was created by local designer Jagabomb otherwise known as Jurgen Goldschmidt.

Edited By: Darryl Linington
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