Young SA tech geeks develop new solutions to improve public service


Young SA tech geeks develop new solutions to improve public service


Publishing Date: 10/1/2018 11:00 AM

Teams of young innovators in the Information and Communication Technology sector participated in a three-day National Public Service Hackathon at the University of Johannesburg's (UJ) Auckland Park Kingsway Campus from Friday, 28 to Sunday, 30 September 2018.

A UJ Team called TechnoCentre Alpha created a game that uses artificial intelligence to help children who have suffered abuse to get a virtual best friend who they can speak to and share their story. That information would then be shared with law enforcement agencies. For this, TechnoCentre Alpha won R30 000 and many other prizes in electronics and devices from Microsoft and other sponsors as second runner up in the Hackathon. The UJ TechnoCentre team is from the School of Consumer Intelligence and Information Systems (SCiiS).

Divided in various creative teams, the tech geeks had to develop systems, platforms and solution-driven approaches that can aid the public and enable government, State-Owned-Entities and other businesses to improve public service delivery. With mostly young participants, the National Public Service Hackathon sought to find innovative ways to solve the country's public service challenges through new technologies.

"We are particularly excited and proud that this event is taking place on UJ soil as it correlates with UJ's own Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) strategy. The University's vision includes the impact of the 4IR on the economy, citizens, society and the state, as well as the role of higher education, the future of work, and inequality as the critical issues that we as a University continue to interrogate," said Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UJ at the Hackathon.

He added: "At UJ, we have positioned ourselves as a leading Pan-African university of choice with a global stature, and we continue to forge ahead with our strategic role to shape the future of South Africa – in partnership with government and industry leaders.

"We have noted the topics covered in the parallel workshops and are quite excited to be part this innovative initiative. I would like to extend our unequivocal support for the work that the Department of Public Service and Administration is doing and look forward to partner with the DPSA as well as other government departments towards service delivery challenges through innovate projects such as Big Data and Service delivery, Block Chain Technology in the Public Service, Science, Technology and Innovation in South Africa, and Coding and Language of the Future."

Teams coded from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon to create new platforms that bring about solutions.

  • A team called #Intellegent_Job_Hunter created an expert system that generates curriculum vitaes (CVs), which identifies candidates' possible career path based on different variables on their CVs and automatically sends applicant's CV to relevant potential employers.
  • Another team created an artificial intelligence system that is able to ask a series of question about people's symptoms and calculate a statistically-based diagnosis to advise if a person should see a doctor. The information is then sent to the person's chosen hospital in order for the hospital staff to plan for the patient's visit.
  • There was also a team that developed a solution-based platform that allows students to upload a photo of any maths problem they are struggling with. The software interprets the problem, then takes the student through a step-by-step answer to the maths question.
  • Team #HackOverflow presented an android electronic record management application with data driven reports for maternity patients and their new born babies with graphical stats to highlight national maternal care issues.

The judges included Nelisa Ngqulana, Managing Director at PR Trends Za; MTN SA Info System Project Manager, Elisja van Niekerk; and Senior Business Solutions Manager for Data Management and Analytics Sas, Obed Lesejane.

The Hackathon was organised under the hashtags #IgniteHack, #PSM2018, and #GovAtWork  to engage with the public and technology experts and students around the world on Twitter.


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One of the young participants (standing) who took part in the National Public Service Hackathon with Dr Chana Pilane-Majake (left) and Minister Ayanda Dlodlo (right) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

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Participants of the Hackathon listen to presentations at B-Les 100.