Young city programmers using tech to solve water crisis
Young computer programmers are helping to develop answers to the water crisis, and create systems for families to better manage household tasks.
As part of his month-long programme focused on highlighting the region’s up and coming innovators, Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities yesterday (24 July 2017) visited Absa Aliens, Absa’s software development and design office based in Gardens.
Young people from across the city are working on products at the development centre, and shared their experiences with Minister Winde. Fifteen software developers are participating in the Absa Aliens programme this year.
The Absa Aliens programme specialises in native mobile development and is at the forefront of the Microsoft Xamarin technology, which allows programmers to share code across platforms, rather than having to recreate the code for different platforms such as iOS (Apple), Android and Windows. The team also specialise in the Internet of Things (IoT), where devices around the home or office collect information from the environment that is sent to a central place such as the cloud, via the Internet. Game development for virtual reality technologies is another focus area.
Keanu Arendze, one of the software developers, said during his experience at Absa Aliens he had learnt a range of different programming languages. Arendze is part of a team who are developing a water monitoring sensor system for Absa’s own premises. The device will calculate the volume of water used in the office.
Amina Latief, another developer, had worked on the Mega U application, which went live in the app store a few weeks ago. The application allows parents to set tasks for children who are given ‘pocket money’ when they complete the tasks. Latief said she had received valuable experience at Absa Aliens, and hoped to grow her career as a software developer.
Minister Winde said the young programmers had an important role to play in ensuring South Africa, and Africa, led the way in the new, digital economy.
“We need to own our space in the new economy. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is going to make a massive difference to how the world works, and we can’t simply be consumers of products and systems created elsewhere. Here at the Southern tip of Africa, we must be creating products we can sell to the world,” said Minister Winde.
Yesterday’s visit was the final part of Minister Winde’s programme this month, which focused on highlighting how residents are using innovation and tech to improve lives.
Minister Winde also visited the ICAN (Interactive Community Access Network) centre in Elsies River, an initiative of the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT). DEDAT has invested R10 million into the centre since its launch in 2014. The centre has recorded 18 000 visits since inception.
The ICAN offering includes access to the City’s Smart Cape free internet service (45 min/day) per registered ICAN member and limited free WiFi (300MB/month) from Sonic Wireless, an internet service provider which sponsors the broadband connectivity at the centre. Free and paid-for courses and conferencing facilities are also available.
Minister Winde also engaged with entrepreneurs at the Barn Khayelitsha, where over 900 people in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain completed training courses in the 2016/17 financial year. These courses included the use of mobile technologies to improve business processes, business fundamentals, coding and basic computer skills development. There was also a specific focus on Women in Business in the areas of business and technology skills. By the end of 2016/17 the Barn had provided support and incubation services to 71 registered tenants.
The Barn forms part of the broader Western Cape Broadband Initiative, which aims to support businesses and citizens with digital adoption, and its 10-year broadband roll-out programme, a R3 billion government investment into broadband infrastructure. The Barn is managed by the Cape IT Initiative (CiTi), and supported by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
Last week, Minister attended a drone demonstration at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture head office, Elsenburg. Farmers have adopted drone technology to conduct general monitoring flyovers, to assess vegetation health through near infrared imaging, to track animals which may require assistance, and to assess stressed zones amongst crops that require watering and fertilisation.
Spokesperson: Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities
Responsible for Tourism, Economic Development and Agriculture
Western Cape Government
142 Long Street, Cape Town
Tel: 021 483 3550
Cell: 060 970 4301