Team South Africa jets off to New York today to compete in the Imagine Cup finals against 124 teams from 73 countries.
The team, comprising the group of youngsters from the University of Cape Town that won the South African leg of the Imagine Cup competition will present their project, HAWK, a three-part aggregation platform which uses the power of geo-coded data to do three main functions:
* 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; and
* 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 say they were inspired to enter the competition after seeing Microsoft Photosynth being used to create “greater than sum of parts” information views out of photos. This sparked 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 powerful capturing and reporting tool, that is intelligent enough to bring you relevant and reliable information that you can use to make better decisions which affect lives and livelihoods.
The Imagine Cup initiative began in South Africa in 2003 and has seen rapid growth, with the number of participating students growing from 100 in 2003, to more than 2 500 in 2010.
Clifford de Wit, developer & platform lead at Microsoft SA, says 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 competition.