The Nairobi Water Hackathon Journey!

By Jessica Colaço
iHub
  Published 26th October 2011
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The Water Hackathon in Nairobi was the first time Kenya's IT communitycongregatedat the iHub to help solve water related issues in Kenya. The organizing team worked hard to ensure that the software developers competing in the Hackathon have relevant, real life problems to tackle.The Hackathon was prepared in acomprehensive consulting process with international experts as well as Nairobi community members, with NGOs, the Nairobi water utility NCWSC, the national water sector regulator WASREB and other partners.

Consulting the community

The first step were community consultations and round table discussions with the developer community. Two meetings were heldin the informal settlements Mathare and Kibera in Kibera. During these events, community members, local authorities and NGOs had an opportunity to highlight the water related issues that mattered most to them and to discuss how these could be addressed.The Nairobi water utility NCWSC and the national regulator were also engaged to provide inputs and pick the most relevant IT related challenges in the water sector.

Defining the problems

These were then refined into the 4 well-defined challenges that were presented to the Hackathon participants:

  1. The visualization of existing Nairobi water quality data through a map-based interface - read more...
  2. The creation of a mobile-to-web complaint system for the national regulator - read more...
  3. Allowing water users to submit their own meter readings by mobile phone to the Nairobi water utility - read more...
  4. Measuring river flows through image data to create an alternative to expensive sensor technology - read more...
Well defined challenges are the precondition for a Hackathon event to really leverage the bright minds of the participants to produce relevant solutions.In Nairobi, much effort was undertaken to direct the talents of Nairobi's IT community towards practical issues. This will also increase the chances of prototypes developed during the Hackathon finding a real-life application.

The actual Hackathon...

70 participants, 10 teams, 36 hours and 4 water challenges

The teams and the challenges they worked on...

The results...

The winners of the Nairobi Water Hackathon...

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