Last December, a team of “techno geeks” from the University of Cape Town won the South African leg of the Imagine Cup competition. They are set to jet off to New York on 07 July 2011 to compete in the Imagine Cup worldwide finals. These students, known as Team South Africa will be competing against 124 teams from 73 countries.
Their project, HAWK is a 3-part aggregation platform, which uses the power of geo-coded data to do three main functions, namely:
- Provide an open capture and reporting system for disaster management such as earthquakes and floods
- Leverage the power of the systems geo-awareness to create an early warning system that can reduce the fatal and damaging effects of disasters. This system knows where emergencies are happening and which people are closest to them
- Focusing the crowd-sourcing reporting ability at a neighbourhood level, allowing communities who have never met to collaborate via the web, enabling them to report on crime, civic infrastructure, and to drive new conversations on improving areas
Team South Africa said what inspired them with entering this competition, was seeing Microsoft Photosynth being used to create “greater than sum of parts” information views out of photos. This lead to the idea that the information that exists on the various social media platforms can also be intelligently stitched together, and when this is powered by geo-location information, this can create a capturing and reporting tool that is intelligent enough to return relevant and reliable information that you can use to make better decisions.
In South Africa, the initiative began in 2003, and has seen rapid growth year on year, with the number of participating students growing from 100 in 2003, to over 2500 in 2010.
Clifford de Wit, Developer and Platform Lead at Microsoft South Africa said the Imagine Cup has grown to be a truly global competition focused on finding solutions to real world problems. Today, more than 300,000 students from 100 countries and regions have entered the Imagine Cup competition. The Imagine Cup is one way Microsoft is encouraging bright young minds to join together and, using technology, take on the tough problems.
Team South Africa is very excited to go to New York as this will award them with an opportunity to meet other competitors from different walks of life and see what projects they will be presenting. They are looking forward to discussing and networking with the best and brightest of the world’s Imagine Cup competitors.