Every year, the City of Johannesburg launches a search for best smart digital technology solutions through “Smart City Innovation Challenge” to help citizens stay connected and allow businesses, citizens and public administrations to find ways to respond faster and in a more integrated way to both crisis situations and daily life.

In collaboration with Wits University’s Tshimologong Innovation Precinct, the challenge aims to find and develop digital technology solutions that respond to urban and community challenges. The solutions need to accelerate service delivery, improve the liveability and safety of the City and enhance operational efficiencies. The initiative is aimed at maximising the use of technology to empower residents and to find solutions to Joburg’s most pressing issues.

Lawrence Boya, the Smart City Office leader, says this year’s innovation challenge sought to find solutions with the special focus to respond to gender-based violence, economic development and township economies, 4IR readiness for smart citizens, institutional operations and management, predictive analytics to improve asset management, food security as well as energy efficiency.

“After months of trying to get the best solutions from the large volume of applications that we received, initially we had advertised for three winners, however, with the quality of the solutions we received, I am glad to announce that we will have four winners who will each pocket half a million rand and an opportunity to pilot their solutions with the City departments or entities in the line of business linked to the chosen solution,” says Boya.

Some of the Smart City Challenge finalists are:

* Arthur Mahlangu from QH Consultants – QH Consultants solution, BizTweak, helps microenterprises diagnose gaps in their business. This is self-assessment platform that culminates in a business health report which shows the strengths and weaknesses of the businesses, and then recommends content that educates to address the gaps realized.

* Nivarshnee Ramparsard from Iconix Engineering – Using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, the Smartee team designed and developed an anti-theft and theft deterrent solution for infrastructure and provides the location and timestamps of any tamper of equipment. The system aims to reduce losses experienced by municipalities and South Africa to enable growth, and economic development.

* Thulani Khumalo from Technological Plumbing Solutions – Prev leak is a smart Internet of Things (IoT) polymer composite manhole cover fitted with an ultrasonic proximity sensor, micro controller and Sigfox network module that detect and report blockages of sewage preventing overflow which brings health risks, pollution, and contamination of water sources affecting Municipalities and Businesses.

* Graf-in Tech – Graf-in Tech developed a Fleet Tracking software with embedded Artificial Intelligence capabilities for vehicle tracking, monitoring, and data analytics in real-time to enable the City saves costs, improve service delivery efficiencies, achieve fleet operations transparency and accountability, and increase expected life of fleets

The four Smart City Innovation Challenge winners will officially be announced on 27 June 2022 at Tshimologong Precinct.