25 March 2014
Sarah Toporoff @SJToporoff
If you've never been to Cairo, you might think that traffic is an issue faced by all cities, but traffic in Cairo has its own language and its own culture. That is why the Editors Lab — Al Masry Al Youm Hackdays naturally fell around this theme. Al Masry Al Youm hosted the Hackdays in a newly designed traffic-themed space, thanks to help from the Egypt Media Development Program and Google.
The team from Akhbarak won the latest Editors Lab Hackdays in Cairo. Their application is designed to help drivers cope with obstacles in the road which they say have become more numerous and less regulated since the 2011 revolution. Special mentions from the jury were given to Welad El Balad and Akhbar Al Yom.
Surrounded by images of gridlock and teams working to make these conditions more livable, endless car horns were appropriately heard from the street outside through the open windows. The only official traffic reports in Cairo are from the Ministry of the Interior, and are not always updated as fast as conditions change. Teams participating in this Editors Lab Jury member from EMDP, Tarek Atia, notes:
‘Traffic is a topic that’s so close to everyone’s daily lives as opposed to bigger political issues covered by the mainstream media. Finally, this is something that can have real effects on people’s lives and give them a sense of hope for change and action’
The variety of projects was impressive: teams came up with solutions for everything from breakdowns to an app specifically for dealing with the 6 October Bridge. All of the teams now have a prototype of an app they can develop and use, and hopefully get other to engage as well.
‘Give citizens the power to put pressure on the authorities through the use of data’
The team from the news site Akhbarak includes Mohamed Magdy, George Sabry and Abdelhafez Alnomany. Their winning application lets drivers report and avoid ‘road occupancies’ such as pop-up markets and drainage issues. Their user-friendly interface ‘encourages cooperation between citizens, government and NGOs through the social media’. Their app also includes a feature that awards certificates to neighbourhoods that are well-maintained in order to motivate and engage users. The team explains, ‘The speed and immediacy of social media can give citizens the power to put pressure on the authorities through the use of data’.
See also: A closer look at hyperlocal news in Cairo: Mantiqti.