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iHub By Jessica Colaço / October 26, 2011

The Nairobi Water Hackathon Journey!

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The Water Hackathon in Nairobi was the first time Kenya’s IT community congregated at 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 a comprehensive 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 held in 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 judges make their decision

The winners of the Nairobi Water Hackathon…

Team Onkesean - Overall Winners of the Nairobi Water Hackathon

Author : Jessica Colaço

Jessica Colaço is currently the Director of Partnerships at iHub. She was the Founding Manager between 2010 and 2011 at iHub and Research Director between 2011 and 2013 at iHub Research. She is passionate about Innovation, Research, Mobile and Robotics Technology, Mentorship and Entrepreneurship in Kenya as she uses her position at iHub to court local, regional and international stakeholders to adopt Kenyan-made and African-made solutions. As an upcoming angel investor, she courts local and international investors to invest in great tech ideas and companies at idea and concept stage. She is also a Mobile and Robotics Tech Evangelist, Co-Founder of WMIAfrica and AkiraChix, ISOC-Kenya Chapter, Treasurer, ACM-W Nairobi Chapter Chair, TED Global Fellow 2009 and upcoming Guitarist. She was named one of the top 40 women under 40 years in Kenya's business scene by Business Daily on 2009, 2011 and 2012. Her endeavour is to put Kenya and Africa on the map for technology achievements and spur innovation within the country and continent! She blogs at:

1 comment
  • New Grant Awarded to iHub | Indigo Trust at 18:17:12PM Thursday, March 14, 2013

    [...] excited to see what kinds of solutions arise from this Hackathon. iHub’s previous Water Hackathons have been really successful and we wish all those taking part in 2013 the very best of luck! Share [...]


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