Hackathon on Mobile Apps for Equitable Access to Quality Health Care
Event on 2013-02-21 08:30:00
Reports from the health sector on the status of health for the majority of Zambians point to notable reductions in infant and maternal mortality rates and in the disease burden in general. Reductions have been recorded in the prevalence of malaria, HIV/AIDS infections and TB transmissions, among others. However, these successes appear not to be commensurate with the newly acquired status of a lower middle income country. Further, a concern has arisen that Zambia may not achieve its health targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Policy makers and experts attribute this to a weak health delivery system and are convinced that mainstreaming ICTs in the system could enhance its effectiveness and hence Zambia’s chances of attaining the MDGs.
In an effort to contribute to this subject, the Southern Africa Innovation Support (SAIS) Programme is promoting public discussions aimed at sharing knowledge on how best to improve the health delivery system in Zambia through the use of ICTs, specifically mobile phone technology. One way of conducting such public discussions is by holding hackathons.
What is a Hackathon?
The word “Hackathon” is a neologism formed by the words “hack” + “marathon”. It uses “hacker” in the original sense of the word: not someone who commits computer crimes but someone who is able to dismantle and transform a complex task.
Hackathons gather together developers, graphic or interface designers as well as other professionals (such as program managers, subject matter experts, etc.) to collaborate on software-related projects. Hackathon’s length can vary from a day or two to one week, have specific topic or tasks to be solved or be very generic, use specific software platform or have no any restrictions on software tools to be used.
What is Mobile Innovation?
A mobile application (or mobile app) is a software application designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices.
Mobile phones are the largest communication and transaction platform in history. Relying on 6 billion cell subscriptions, about three quarters of the world’s population now have direct access to a mobile phone.1 The technology offers potential for economic growth and high-quality jobs in the mobile industry, while mobile software and applications, or “apps,” also catalyze other sectors like health or government. Because of plummeting tariffs and device prices, the platform is also “democratic,” providing marginalized groups with an opportunity for greater participation in markets and societies.
Mobile applications can positively impact society, empowering and transforming lives. Increasingly, developing countries see a unique opportunity in leveraging mobiles for inclusive economic and social development. While access has become less of an issue, developing mobile applications that are adapted to local needs is becoming ‘the next frontier’.
Mobile apps can deliver market information to farmers in rural areas, bring health, education, and government services remotely to citizens unable to reach physical facilities, provide supply and delivery channels to small businesses, or extend access to money and financial services to the “unbanked” segments of the population. All of these outcomes ultimately contribute to the development of more robust and efficient economies, as well as a more equitable society, with citizens empowered to make informed choices and forge meaningful livelihoods.
With the right ecosystem in place, mobile application entrepreneurs will drive sustainable inclusion and growth. In view of low technological entry barriers and fixed cost, the mobile industry offers vast revenue and growth potential for application developers and entrepreneurs. In turn, a favorable ecosystem that integrates policy-makers, mobile network operators, investors, donors, and so forth, must exist in order for mobile app entrepreneurs to thrive. While creativity and entrepreneurial spirit exist in abundance, low and middle income countries often lack the professional networks, favorable policy environments and innovation ecosystems, information access, business skills, mentors, spaces for exchange, and access to investors necessary for a thriving mobile innovation ecosystem. Identifying and tackling these barriers could unleash the potential of mobile innovation for inclusive economic development and job creation.
Overall objective is to mobilize local tech communities and to help mobile apps developers to learn, develop and bring their ideas to the next stage by providing the environment and resources needed to succeed.
The Hackathon is planned for 2 days and is team-based, i.e. participants are expected to apply and to work in small groups of up to three people and to come up with a prototype at the end of the Hackathon.
Mobile Innovation Hackathon has no any restrictions in terms of mobile application development platform to be used; each team will be free to choose any platform to work on (Android, iOS, Windows, BlackBerry, mobile web).
Prizes are available for winning ideas.
To participate, please submit your idea(s) here.
at NTBC Technology Information Resource Center, New Government Complex Building