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Thousands up for grabs for young Jozi GeoJozi developers


Three young geo developers who have entered the City of Johannesburg’s GeoJozi Developer Challenge will on Wednesday November 16 share R300 000 in prize money for coming up with innovative ideas that could help the City improve its allocation and address maintenance systems.

Earlier this year the City, in partnership with the Wits University-based Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) and mapping software company Esri South Africa called on developers aged 30 years or younger with an interest in apps, maps, data, urban development and cities to enter the competition, the first of its kind in Johannesburg.

The aim of the challenge is to uncover new and digital solutions that could help improve the City’s Geo Information Systems (GIS) data and enhance the allocation and maintenance of addresses across the 1 644km2 metropolis. The winner of the first prize will walk away with a cheque for R150 000, whereas the first runner-up will be R100 000 richer. The second runner-up will pocket R50 000.

The participants have since the announcement been battling it out at the Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein – Johannesburg’s own Silicon Valley – with their eyes on the top prize. Judges have been peering through scores of innovative ideas that could offer new and dynamic digital solutions to improve the City’s operations.

“Addresses and locations are essential for the efficiency of a high functioning city. Street addresses specify points of service delivery. They are essential for electricity, water, refuse, sewage, emergency services, land ownership, parcel deliveries, safety and security, being able to vote and countless other critical services and functions. A street address can save a life,” says Marcelle Hattingh, the City’s Director of Corporate Geo-Informatics.

Data released by the United Nations last year projected that 71.3% of South Africa’s population would live in urban areas by 2030 and nearly 80% by 2050.

“This puts the need for innovative street addresses and location solutions in the spotlight,” she says.

JCSE Director Prof Barry Dwolatzky said digital solutions were the way of the future.

“As the world becomes more digitised, more real time data about cities is becoming available. This data can help to manage cities better and make them smarter. A street address informs us of location, and this is where GIS comes in. It’s all about a specific position or the coordinates on earth,” says Dwolatzky.