Inno-Tech Hackathon Produces Cambodian Tech Tools


By Elisa Choi

Project Associate
Development Innovations

“This app is about searching, but it’s more than searching – it helps reduce people’s pressure. When people get flat tires, they start to panic, get nervous, and angry.” – David Pich, member of winning team

We’ve all experienced the uneasy feeling and panic that ensues immediately after a flat tire. A flat tire is not an uncommon occurrence for the average motor-bicyclist, bicyclist or driver in Cambodia. While fixing a flat tire takes no longer than 15 minutes, locating a nearby repair shop may take half an hour or even longer.

“Pong Kas” is an app created by a team of 5 students to help minimize the time it takes for troubled cyclists and drivers to locate nearby mechanics and repair shops. As team member David Pich put it, “This app is about searching, but it’s more than searching – it helps reduce people’s pressure. When people get flat tires, they start to panic, get nervous, and angry.”

The app is just one of five technology tools developed over the course of 48 hours at the first annual Inno-Tech Festival on March 18 and 19, 2016. Five participant teams gathered at the festival’s very own “hackathon” which brought together young developers, programmers, and technical experts to “hack”, or come up with new ideas and solutions to address common issues faced by everyday Cambodians.

After coding and programming their apps and product prototypes over the weekend, the five teams pitched their app ideas and product prototypes to a panel of judges, including representatives from USAID, CellCard, Open Development Mekong, Golden West Humanitarian Foundation and Development Innovations to win one of three cash prizes.

Pong Kas took home the first place cash prize of $300, sponsored by Cellcard, for the inventive iOS app prototype. Coming in at second place was “Last Mile”, a 3D virtual modeling system that helps NGOs create 3D models of donor funded infrastructure projects. This visualized donation system would allow NGOs to share 3D models of schools, buildings, furniture and other product to give donors a clearer picture of how their funds are helping the organization’s mission.

Last but not least, “LibrarianNav” took home the third place prize in the competition. LibrarianNav is a website created by 12-year old Phillip Jordan that allows students to locate the books in their school libraries faster and more easily. “For a hard book to find, it would typically take 2-5 minutes”, Phillip shared. This website would give students access to library information that was previously too complicated or unavailable.

Hackathons have been gaining popularity within the tech community and startup industry as a way to develop new ideas and technologies that solve real-world problems. Though typically lasting a short time, usually between 24 hours to a week, hackathons have proven that great ideas can come from anywhere to be transformed into real, usable technologies. The hackathon at the Inno-Tech Festival in particular has shown that when problem solvers, social innovators, and technologists come together, we can address issues that affect Cambodians with tangible, innovative solutions.

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