A marathon of a hackathon

Seeking innovative digital solutions

09 July 2020 | Technology

The UNDP Namibia Accelerator Lab has partnered with the Namibia University Science and Technology (NUST) Tech Hub and Green Enterprise Solutions in hosting a virtual hackathon.
The Service Innovation Hack aims to develop digital and innovative solutions to address the pain points and challenges government has been experiencing on service delivery.
Often misunderstood for negative digital hacking activities, hackathons are actually marathon-programming events that take place for two days or more. Participants usually consist of programmers or designers who set aside time to code and develop Apps without sleeping. Hackathons are different from Idea-thons which are brainstorming events. Idea-thons usually last anywhere from one to five hours, depending on the number of participants taking part.
The UNDP’s latest offering to governments worldwide, the Accelerator Labs have been making sense of several delivery challenges across the world and in the country. In Namibia, the Accelerator Lab has been exploring the different service delivery challenges that have been identified. Many of the current challenges that governments have been facing are issues which either have to do with cumbersome and manual processes that are tedious and require “out of the box thinking”.

Nine challenges identiefied
There are nine challenges all related to service delivery which are highlighted as current challenges that government is facing, namely Digitization of Services; Economic Transformation; Ease of Doing Business; Tourism of Tomorrow; Access to Essential Services; Virtual Healthcare; Protecting the Vulnerable; Building strong institutions; and Accountability.
The hackathon participants have been invited through social media and crowdsourced through a WhatsApp link. In addition, advertisements calling for participation have been flighted through various conventional media such as newspapers and radio, while NBC has devoted an entire feature to the Hackathon which aired on 8 July 2020.
The outputs of the Hackathon, the various Apps and digital solutions will go through a judging process, after which the winning Apps will be refined through prototype testing and further refined and developed. A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) will then be handed to the custodian government office/ ministry / agency for further piloting in view of scaling it up and improved in subsequent iterations.

While the closing date has already passed, shortlisted candidates will be notified by Monday (13 July) wherafter participants have ten days (from 17 to 27 July) to work on their proposed solutions. The hackathon concludes on 31 July, with the final judging of the three best solutions and prize money awarded.
The judges, who are both technical ICT experts and public sector officials, have been drawn from government, higher education institutions and the private sector. A soft handing over of the digital solution(s) to the respective public sector institutions will take place at the same event. The participants will be waving their intellectual property rights on the digital solutions which were spelt out during the terms and conditions of entry.

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