Oceans Five’s ‘E-Public Participation Platform’ wins Innovation Hackathon

Cape Town: The City of Cape Town finally concludes its inaugural Innovation Hackathon with Oceans Five winning top prize for their E-Public Participation Platform that were designed to improve resident access to city services.

The event saw several youth participating from various backgrounds huddling behind the laptops for 24 hours at the UVU Africa offices in Woodstock.

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Reportedly, the participants were challenged to come up with an ‘E-Public Participation Platform’ that can be used by the city to make improvements so that the residents can access to the city services easily.

The inaugural innovation hackathon was established to provide the city’s geeks, officials, students and partners with a platform to showcase their coding talent by creating software products that will address customer service-related challenges.

Team Oceans Five won the Innovation Hackathon
Team Oceans Five won the Innovation Hackathon

Oceans Five was announced as a winning team. It was a team of five individuals from the UVU Africa’s CAPACITI 18-month computer coding incubation programme that won the trophy.

The winning team walked away with a R5,000 Takelot voucher and they will be presented to the city’s partners for the design and development of their public participation software called as Citi Builder. The Tigerthons grabbed the second place and the third place went to the Code Talkers.

The winning team’s Realeboga Matlakala said that they sat down and conceptualised an easy-to-use web application for residents that will enable them to search for jobs, as well as see what city projects are currently on the go. “We are mostly targeting the unemployed and positioning the city’s platform as the go-to-place for job seekers,” said Matlakala who was accompanied by his teammates Nonzwakazi Mgxaji, Lissa Tshona, Thandokazi Notyalwa and Kamohelo Filane.

Considering this, CEO of UVU Africa Group – Ian Merrington said that this collaboration highlights UVU Africa and CAPACITI’s dedication to develop local talent to bridge the digital divide and support their mission to build future-fit, inclusive of the societies through digital innovation.

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“We are thrilled to have seen our CAPACITI candidates demonstrate their skills and innovations,” said CEO Merrington.

Photograph from the Innovation Hackathon
Photograph from the Innovation Hackathon

According to the insights from the last week, the workshops and the hackathon are important building blocks to inform future design of public participation tools in the city and the country.

The Human Science’s Research Council’s (HSRC) – Dr. Derek Davids said that the hackathon is an important part of the journey with the City of Cape Town to make public participation more accessible and meaningful.

As per Davids the event builds on learnings from two e-Participation and Policy Modelling Platform for South Africa (ePPMPSA) pilot workshops. The workshops will be hosted with communities and councillors and the City’s Public Participation team, which helped them to identify opportunities for using digital platforms in new ways.

The Executive Director for city’s Future Planning and Resilience – Gareth Morgan stated that following 24 hours of planning and coding, the youngsters blew them all away with their solutions-based applications. Most of the presentations reflected an awareness around using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance the digital Public Participation Platforms to interact with the residents on input, ideas for planning and service delivery.

They also emphasised on making sure that the software they designed would be low-cost, accessible online and offline, easy to navigate and easy to retrieve information on projects, tenders and jobs.

Morgan added, “Congratulations, to the wining team, Ocean Five, we really look forward to see how we can implement their ideas.”

Notably, the seven teams which participated in the hackathon presented their Most Viable Products (MVPs) on Friday, May 17, 2024 to a panel of four judges comprised of the City’s Innovation and Customer Insights Manager – Bridgette Morris; HSRC’s Senior Research Manager – Dr. Paul Plantinga; UVU Africa’s Head of Information Technology – Chesarae Pillay and the City’s Digital Communications Manager – Justin Lawrence.