Egypt's Tech Community to Conquer Cairo's Traffic

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We have all heard about, and many of us have experienced, Cairo’s infamous and grueling traffic congestion.

This year, the World Bank is partnering with stakeholders and regional leaders to address some of Cairo’s most pressing transportation challenges.

It is currently estimated that the average commuting time in Cairo will increase from 37 minutes today to a disheartening 150 minutes by 2015 with an increased population and demand on the labor force. Not only will this take time out of Egyptians’ personal lives, it will have a serious impact on the Egyptian economy by slowing the movement of goods and making work a more arduous task.

Over 70% of the cars in Cairo’s traffic are privately owned and on average carry less than 1.6 people per car – a recipe for overcrowding - and in 2010 alone there were over 7,000 traffic-related deaths in Cairo.

With around 90% of Egyptians owning a mobile phone today, Egypt has access to a robust communications platform with a huge reach, explains Cecilia Maria Paradi-Guilford, ICT Innovation Specialist at the World Bank. Many Egyptians are trading in their mobile phones for smartphones, gaining access to new communication technologies and ways to connect and share their daily lives.

Enter the Cairo Transport App Challenge, a competition seeking to bring together Cairo’s private sector, government, NGO, and academic stakeholders to discover the best ways to tap into Egypt’s growing technology community to find real and innovative solutions.

Hosted by the World Bank, the App Challenge is sponsored by Google, Orange, Vodafone, and TIEC with partners Google Developer Group Cairo, dotopen, AppCircus, MCIT, TIEC, ITIDA, Green Arm, AYB, GUC, Wamda and ArabNet. The competition is also in collaboration with both Egypt’s Transportation Ministry and Ministry of Telecommunications and IT.

“Transportation and traffic in Cairo in particular is a priority for the new government and they are putting a lot of emphasis on it,” reveals Paradi-Guilford, the Egyptian Government is on board to empower the best ideas to have real and lasting impact in Cairo.

The Competition

Egypt’s technology community brainstormed six “problem statements” at a Techcamp in June of this year, defining the major issues in Cairo’s transportation system and setting the guidelines for the competition’s participants.

With the task of addressing one or more of these statements, ranging from driving behavior and pollution to gender safety and public transport, participants have an exciting yet daunting challenge ahead of them, with the chance to have real impact. “What we hope to see at the end of this is a greater awareness of the power of technology to address transport issues and to see Egyptian technology shine through some of these promising applications,” notes Paradi-Guilford.

To kickoff the App Challenge, its partners are hosting a launch event on September 15th where participants can ask questions, network, and learn more about the goals of the competition (click here to register). 

Participants can then submit a working app protoype between October 29th and November 16th; each app will be assessed on how well it addresses the stated issue (chosen from the list of six), its technical and operational feasibility, economic and financial sustainability, creativity and innovation, team effort, and public voting, among other technical criteria.

Finalists will be announced on November 30th with an award ceremony to take place on December 15th. The winner of the challenge will be nominated to attend the Mobile Premier Awards 2013 during the Mobile World Congress, taking place in Barcelona in February 2013.

The Cairo Transport App Challenge certainly has a huge mission, but as it works to engage the growing Egyptian tech community, it is sure to reveal interesting innovations that could change the streets of Cairo forever.

Voting is now open to the public after the top 15 finalists presented their ideas to the judges. To vote, click here.

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