South Africa's WhereIsMyTransport recently announced the availability of their open platform for integrated transport data in emerging cities, with Cape Town being the first city to have transport data available for different transportation modes.

Given the availability of the data, WhereIsMyTransport, the Bandwidth Barn, KAT-O, and Women in Tech hosted a hackathon in Cape Town fro 3-6 March 2017, which was aimed at "interrogating the data, creating solutions and products that not only increased the use and modes of public transport in Cape Town, but also empower Capetonians to travel further and experience more of the city".

β€œThis hackathon was our first to showcase what can be done with integrated transport data, and the power of an open platform. It formed part of the Global Public Transport Hackathon Series, and teams could enter 4 categories: Integrated Mobility, Healthy Mobility, Inclusive Mobility and Future Mobility. The overall winning team FindMyTaxi, won an all-expenses paid trip to the 62nd UITP Global Public Transport Summit, taking place later this year in Montreal,” explained Devin de Vries, Co-founder WhereIsMyTransport.

Microsoft invested in the event as part of its business strategy and commitment to changing lives through partnerships and development initiatives.

β€œIt is through the use of the data gathered by WhereIsMyTransport that we, as active corporate citizens, are able to address some of the real challenges faced in our public transport sector. The use of data, and open data for that, has the potential to assist and guide the transformation of all sectors. Innovative solutions developed by participating hackers has a vast potential to be tapped for the benefit of people, business and the economy,” said Riedwaan Bassadien, Open Source Lead at Microsoft SA.

β€œI’ve been dreaming of this day, and this hackathon, for a long time. When I moved to Cape Town, I gave up my car. I wanted to be able to live without it. I’m so glad that we’ve had the opportunity to create something that can help others do the same.” Emma Phiri, FindMyTaxi

The hackathon was won by FindMyTaxi, which is a system to provide an "Uber-like" experience for minibus taxi users in South Africa and make off-peak taxi operations more efficient. They hole to achieve this by connecting drivers, passengers, the WhereIsMyTransport platform, and a chatbot, allowing users to receive real-time information about upcoming taxis, and drivers are notified of demand enroute. During the hackathon, the team focussed on the passenger-side innovation, a chatbot in Facebook Messenger that shares pertinent journey information with the user without needing to download any new apps.

Cover Image: FindMyTaxi team made up of Emma Phiri, Sam Beckseeinger, Henny Keyzer, Zizipho Mzuzwana, and Lilitha Moni.

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