In late July, we sent teams of innovators – fresh out of HackforGood 2017 – to Open Mic Africa.
Hosted by MIT’s Legatum Center, Open Mic Africa is a “Pan-African tour organized by the Legatum Center at MIT to discover and support local entrepreneurs who are bringing their knowledge to bear on their continent’s greatest challenges. Open Mic Africa aims to find and showcase Africa’s top innovators while developing a dialogue among local entrepreneurs, investors, and MIT.”
We were honored to have teams participate, and are especially pleased to report that one of YTF’s teams took home the top prize!
The winning team – Team RAA – is named after their invention: the Road Accident Alert (RAA). Their idea was conceived and developed at YTF’s HackforGood 2017, and then modified for Open Mic Africa.
The winning idea a life-securing device that senses a car crash and alerts local authorities. It provides first responders with the GPS location of the crash site to help direct the response and reduces the time it takes to arrive on-site.
“Basically, it will reduce the rate at which people die after accidents by calling for help immediately when the accident occurs,” explained team member Emmanuel Izuwa. “This was our key point during the pitch.”
“We know there is a gap in prompt communication from an accident site to the emergency rescue team and that time gap is crucial to the survival of the victims,” said another team member, Maruf Adewole. “We move to shorten that gap.”
How the Accident Alert Came Together
To create the alert system, hackers pulled together their experience and collaborated on skills like programming, CAD modeling, electronics, and fabrication.
Team members shared that the most challenging aspect of building RAA was getting the right sensors.
“Building a device that can detect a car crash is not easy,” said Izuwa. “Sensors must be placed in the right position for maximum efficiency of the system.”
Maruf explained one challenge was breaking down the idea into manageable tasks and finding the appropriate components to handle them.
Building an Entrepreneur Community
While each team member brought critical skills to the table, they were all thrilled to meet and work with their peers.
YTF intern and team member, Miracle Onyeyanu, shared:“I got to meet people with skill, drive and passion for technology. I wouldn’t have met these people if not for HackforGood 2017. It was an awesome experience working with people of like minds, my team members were ready to deliver any time they were called upon. Everyone played his or her own role perfectly well. They helped me appreciate the concept of team work.”
“The experience was truly amazing,” said Maruf. “I was given the opportunity to practicalize what I have been learning for quite a while. It also introduced me to new stuff such as 3D printing and Arduino Uno.”
Calling All Innovators
Team members offered advice to the dreamers and doers out there who are hoping to solve local problems through technology.
“My advice tech idealists and innovators is that they should acquire technical skills anywhere and anytime they can,” Emmanuel shared.
Maruf implored, “We need innovators, we seriously need them. Who could have imagined electricity could be this useful before the days of Edison, JP Morgan and Tesla. Innovations will always drive our future as long as they solve problems and make life easier. However, it could be frustrating at times. Be sure of what you are doing and be passionate with it. There will always be reward for excellence.”
“They should not give up because Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Onyenanu said. “It takes persistence and perseverance to get to the top.”