#SummerDevDays: Young geeks code the 4IR

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Geekulcha COO, Tiyani Nghonyama.
Geekulcha COO, Tiyani Nghonyama.

The first two days of December saw 136 aspiring developers, high school learners, designers, government officials and others take part in the Summer Developer Days hackathon (#SummerDevDays).

Hosted by UNISA and Geekulcha, and MC'd by Thulisile Dlamini of Ikusasa Technology Solutions, the hackathon was themed `Living 4IR'.

During the two days of coding participants learned from industry mentors not only about coding but also about the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), in which trends such as the Internet of things, robotics, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence are disrupting the way we live and work.

"Skills being built up through these events will be utilised in various hackathons to help with innovation development and ignite new tech startups. We hope to see more coders emerge in 2019 editions," says Geekulcha COO, Tiyani Nghonyama.

"As the South African tech ecosystem grows at its own pace with various activities taking place on the ground, we need to assess, monitor, nurture, account, guide and forecast the grow of the digital ecosystem," he adds.

There's no 4IR without coders

During his opening address, Professor Ernest Mnkandla of UNISA highlighted the university's annual programmes and hackathons to drive open source and enable socially-relevant innovation. "We love open source because it gives you freedom to create anything," he said.

Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams delivered a keynote address at the event, and spent some time with the young geeks as they coded for the 4IR. "We cannot build a capable 4IR without coders," she said.

Another guest, deputy speaker of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, Mlibo Qomoshiyane, described 4IR as a 'volcanic eruption', urging attendees to build better societies, saying he hoped to see smart villages in his lifetime.

Ivan Regasek, CEO of ITWeb, gave a talk on the history of programming, highlighting that 'Javascript is the English of programming'.

Dark patterns

To set the tone and drive momentum around hackathons such as the one running alongside ITWeb's Security Summit, a panel discussion on 'Dark Social and Dark Patterns' was hosted and facilitated by the acting executive director of the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), Qinisile Delwa. He was joined by Dr Jabu Mtsweni from CSIR, Nomso Kana fromSUN 'n SHIELD, Doreen Mokoena from ZADNA and Nelisa Ngqulana from PR Trends ZA.

Some of the project highlights of the event include:

  • A TB test machine learning solution to help with efficient diagnosis of tuberculosis
  • A honeypot server to deceive cybercriminals and boost information security
  • Data mining with an IOT underground lights system

Due to the success of #SummerDevDays, Geekulcha will be making it a seasonal event across different provinces: AutomDevDays (Open Data - Free State or Eastern Cape), WinterDevDays (Cyber Security - Western Cape), SpringDevDays (Public Service - Gauteng) and SummerDevDays (Living4IR - Gauteng).

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