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FEATURE STORY

Young Colombians Look for Ways to Improve their Cities Using ICT Solutions

May 7, 2013


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World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • In “Co-Crea Colombia” more than 200 competitors developed solutions for their cities’ problems.
  • The competition was organized in conjunction with the World Bank’s “Smart Cities” project.
  • The nine winning teams will compete with one another.

Dozens of young people gathered around their computers and mobile devices in Cali, Manizales and Barranquilla during the weekend of May 4-5 with one goal in mind: to develop applications to improve the way their cities work.

It was the “Co-Crea Colombia” Hackathon, organized by the World Bank. The event was attended by more than 200 developers in three cities, looking for solutions to their cities’ security, risk management, mobility and health problems.

In Barranquilla, for example, some participants focused on the problem of "arroyos", the dangerous streams of water that form in the streets when it rains. These "arroyos" endanger the property and lives of the cities’ inhabitants. One of the applications proposed was a mobile device warning system.

“I think this type of activity is spectacular because it promotes innovation, creativity, cooperation and citizen participation to help solve the city’s problems,” said María Isabel Mejía, Colombia’s Deputy Minister of Information Technologies and Systems, during the event in Barranquilla.

Destination London

There were three winning groups in each city. The three cities will compete with one another and a winning team will be selected during an event to be held in Bogota at the end of June. The winner of this final competition will travel to London, UK, to visit the innovation hub and receive an orientation on how they can start their own business.

“The winning applications are actually very creative solutions to the day-to-day problems faced by the residents of each of the cities we visited,” explains Henry Forero, Senior ICT Specialist at the World Bank.


" The winning applications are actually very creative solutions to the day-to-day problems faced by the residents of each of the cities we visited.  "

Henry Forero

Senior ICT Specialist at the World Bank

And the winners are…

In Cali:

  • The Civicgroup team: With their “Civicmap” application, users learn how to be good citizens.
  • The Coco Locos team: Their “Ciclomundo” (CyclingWorld) application lets cyclists know which streets are the safest.
  • The Ciudadanos Activos (Active Citizens) team: Their “Transporte Activo” (Active Transportation) application lets users see where the mass transit bus they are waiting for is.

In Manizales:

  • The Bloop team: They had the idea of monitoring expectant mothers, in response to the problem of maternal mortality in their city.
  • The Emgenia team: Their application gives citizens points for adopting healthy habits. The points are then converted into food donations for community kitchens.
  • The City taxi team: They proposed a transportation observatory.

In Barranquilla:

  • The Ark team: They developed an application to monitor and create warning systems about arroyos in the streets.
  • The Nerdcore team: With this team’s “CIUDAPP Cuida tu ciudad” (Take care of your city) application, citizens can use their mobile devices to notify the agency responsible for problems with public facilities and infrastructure.
  • The Vía Trans team: They had the idea of an integrated management system to monitor the performance of ambulances.

World Bank ICT expert Alex Rifón explained that these ideas are replicable. “They originally addressed some problems that could be seen as localized but they also have the potential to be scaled up and replicated in other cities, regions and countries.”

The competition was organized in conjunction with the World Bank’s “Smart Cities” project, which aims to develop the technological capacities of cities around competitiveness, the environment, and relationships between citizens and the government.

As Deputy Minister Mejía put it, “The idea is to continue working with the World Bank and to keep encouraging co-creation activities in our country.”


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