Presented by KRS

Hacking traffic

The recent SBC and RCS Future Cities Hackathon held in Cape Town, sought to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Participating for the first time in this hackathon, Cape-based software development company KRS focused its attention on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal that looks at solutions for sustainable cities and communities, specifically, human mobility.

Cape Town is currently the third most congested city in the world.   With denser urbanisation on the horizon and therefore more people, more vehicles and more trips, KRS used the Hackathon to centre its attention on using technology to help move people and help them feel safe when using public transport.

With around 15 million daily commuters (many of who travel in ‘taxis’) and 70,000 road traffic accidents annually, safety is not guaranteed.

The fix? TaxiRanked.

Over the Hackathon weekend, KRS considered some of the most pertinent problems facing general commuters.  During this short time, the team managed to define, create a product and test it, ultimately presenting the other participants with a working proof of concept – the only team to do so.

The solution: TaxiRanked. A WhatsApp service that allows commuters to verify their taxi and driver. The service would dial into the central vehicle database to check the status of the vehicle and the driver – licensed, roadworthy, how many recorded incidents etc.

TaxiRanked was designed to provide reassurance to commuters that their chosen driver and vehicle were safe; an incentive to drivers (and taxi owners and associations), to drive responsibly and; something that would generate anonymous but credible, 3rd-party data for insurance companies (for risk analysis), city planners, as well as Government agencies.

In a pilot set-up during the Hackathon, KRS used WhatsApp as a mechanism to deliver the end to end information.  TaxiRanked received more than 50 responses within a two hour period (with no advertising or dedicated marketing push). All comments, bar two, were favourable, welcoming the presence of such a service.

Lorraine Steyn, Simplifier-in-Chief at KRS remarked: “Judging by feedback from the participating teams, the Hackathon was an extremely rewarding experience. Being exposed to different thinking and methodologies enabled a rich learning environment.

“Most of all though, I am pleased with the team’s performance in being able to clearly demonstrate the ability to quickly assess the problem at hand and provide real world, workable solutions, that allow for the delivery of a minimum viable product (MVP),  in a very short space of time”.

Steyn also says that this is an indication of what the company is capable of on a daily basis.  She credits a combination of Domain Driven Design, Systems Thinking, Agile and the fact that KRS regularly engages in ongoing training, which is tested on a frequent basis, for the company’s success in bringing bespoke software solutions to market for clients.

As to whether TaxiRanked will be delivered into an actual product, KRS says it has received interest and will be considering its options.

This article was published in partnership with KRS.

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