Open Innovation to Unclog Cairo’s Roads
An open innovation competition to tackle Cairo’s congestion problems delivers innovative and promising apps.
The Cairo Transport App Challenge, Egypt
The Cairo metropolitan area like those of so many other busy cities across the world experiences daily problems with congestion. It increases travel time, has adverse affects on air quality and public health, pollutes the environment, and is often a huge cost to business operations.
Though there are some who argue the need for enhanced spending on infrastructure, solutions can often be found by managing traffic more effectively, particularly during rush hours and peak times.
New Thinking Needed
To encourage new thinking to an old problem The Cairo Transport App Challenge invited developers and others with an interest, to find solutions using new communications technologies.
In 2010 more than 7000 people died on Egypt’s roads, and the country’s President put traffic as the second most important priority.
Consequently, the app contest presented participants with six problems statements. It was up to them to decide which ones they would like to address.
The problem statements were:
• Harassment and other personal safety issues – there is a high rate of
harassment on the public transport system
• Inefficient microbus system – the current system is informal and unregulated,
proving hazardous to safety at times, and contributing to congestion
• Encouraging shared rides and car-pooling – everyday 14 million cars are on
Cairo’s roads and 70% only carry 1-2 people
• Increasing effective traffic enforcement – most traffic violations go without
penalty as there isn't an effective way to keep track of violations
• Data collection on the traffic situation in Cairo – traffic congestion is expected
to get worse, but data is not collected in a systematic way
• Improving driver behavior – the country’s drivers have earned a reputation for
being undisciplined. The bad road behaviors lead to safety issues and
More than 250 developers registered for the open innovation competition, and more than 30 teams sent in a broad range of ideas.
Ten finalists competed in the final ceremony in February 2013 and from this event there emerged one winner and four other prizes were awarded. The total value of the prize money was $6,500.
In first place was an app called Beliaa. If your car has broken down during a journey it uses GPS to send a map with your location to road assistance centers. It also maintains a car log and sends you reminders of when your car needs a service. Traffic avoidance is another of the app’s key functions. Beliaa is integrated with the General Department for Traffic and can keep users apprised of congestion hot spots.
Among the other winners were Autobeesy Feen, a bus tracking app based on live information from those riding on buses, and Emokhalfa, a means for road users to report traffic related violations. The idea here is to use these violation reports to put community pressure on bad drivers.
Cairo sees this open innovation contest as a continuous process as it’s being followed by a series of activities to develop further initiatives.
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