E-tolls company hosts transport hackathon

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The ETC Hackathon winners and runners-up have been announced.
The ETC Hackathon winners and runners-up have been announced.

The Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) company, which manages e-tolls in Gauteng, and Sanral have partnered with WhereIsMyTransport to host the ETC Hackathon, themed "Collaborate and Innovate".

WhereIsMyTransport is a start-up company that collates and shares public transport data.

Last week, the ETC Hackathon winners and runners-up were announced during the closing of the International Seminar on Integrated Road Transport and Mobility, which attracts industry thought leaders from across the continent.

The winning team, OnTheRoadAgain, conceptualised a mobile solution called UDrive that delivers turn-by-turn public transport directions via SMS or WhatsApp.

The application allows users with smart or feature phones to plan their journey with the help of a chatbot.

The winners walked away with a cash prize of R20 000 and a year's free access to the WhereIsMyTransport public transport application programming interface (API).

This will allow the first prize winners to further develop their apps and refine them for a specific target market, says ETC.

WhereIsMyTransport is a platform for smart urban transport in emerging regions of the globe. The API helps to integrate formal and informal transport to connect cities, operators and commuters for a more sustainable and efficient transport system.

It uses technologies developed in-house which enable data to be reliably collected and verified. This includes a mobile application for capturing route data and information such as on- and off-peak timing, common stopping points, fares and frequency. Data collection teams are made up of those who live and work locally, ensuring extensive public transport knowledge and valuable qualitative inputs.

WhereIsMyTransport last year completed its largest data collection project to date (the informally-run public transport networks of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni).

The runners-up in the hackathon were Code Junkies for their incentivised toll usage app that gives road users retail rewards for paying e-tolls.

Carma was awarded third place for building an app for both taxi drivers and taxi users. Its dual-purpose app allows taxi drivers to see the exact location of taxi users, and the user can see how far their next taxi is from their location.

Coenie Vermaak, CEO of ETC, presented the awards to the winners.

"The level of innovation and technological expertise displayed in the design and development of all of these apps is certainly remarkable," says Vermaak.

"Road transport in South Africa has many challenges, and technology is certainly a key factor in revolutionising the industry. It has been an honour to support this event and witness the cutting-edge thinking delivered by all the participants."

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