Local solutions: Civic Hackathon concludes with promise to come back every year

Published: February 3, 2014
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Various android and web-based applications presented. PHOTO: FILE

Various android and web-based applications presented. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: The Civic Hackathon concluded at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) on Sunday with 21 new android and web-based applications presented during the two-day event.

Arranged by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) Department of Information Technology (IT), the main organisers of the first ever hackathon of the province were Code for Pakistan, Peshawar 2.0 and the World Bank. Participants from around K-P, especially students, attended the convention.

The provincial government also took a keen interest in the hackathon and announced the applications created will be used to help solve socio-economic problems. They have also promised the event will be organised every year.

“This is just the beginning,” said Anwar Kamal, who created an application along with his group for hiring lawyers online. “Leading social media networks around the world were created through start-ups,” he added.

Kamal, a student of UET, said his application would benefit people living in far-flung areas of the province who have little access to legal experts. To prevent inconvenience and save time, they can simply open the application, where lawyers’ profiles will be available. They cannot only correspond through this, but can also keep track of information relating to court hearings, etc.

“We have done everything in the short time span of two days, within which we conceptualised, designed and also successfully demonstrated the app,” said Kamal.

“It is necessary to organise these start-ups if we want to make K-P an IT hub,” said Sarmad Sajjad, who created an android-based application called ‘Vehicle Accident Reporting’.

“This app will automatically generate a message to rescue centres and the nearest ambulance centre immediately if the vehicle collides,” Sajjad informed.

Another participant, Hamadullah, created an application called ‘E-Price List’.

“We have proposed an SMS-based system to the K-P government that will facilitate consumers by providing standard rates of edibles such as vegetables, fruits and other food items,” said Hamadullah, adding the administration usually updates the price list every two weeks. This way, he said, they can put the list on their official website, which would be connected to mobile phones through the application.

Muhammad Raza Shah and his four-member team created and demonstrated a web-based app for keeping a check on students and teachers alike. Shah said he believes that one of the main problems with the education system is that not only are the students absent, but teachers are too.

“The app would end traditional methods of writing attendance in registers,” said Shah. “Attendance will be taken through an online form, which is automatically sent to relevant higher authorities.”

Several applications were aimed at improving the health sector in the province. One such app is the ‘Online Medical Appointment System’ by Adnan Khan and his four-member team.

“Usually, a good doctor will not see you for weeks after you make an appointment,” said Adnan. “People coming from far-off areas have to stay in cities until their turn comes.”

He said his web portal will have complete profiles of all registered doctors and pharmacists, where patients just need to sign in to make an appointment with a doctor.

Other applications were created for damage assessment in different disasters. Irfan and his team created an app to collect accurate data of the damage caused by any disaster.

“The surveyor sent by the authorities takes a long time to record things using hand-written accounts,” said Irfan, adding that the record is also biased. Through his android-based app, he said, data along with pictures would be collected and sent to the authorities at once, without any time being wasted.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2014.

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