HARTFORD, CT, April 24, 2013 – Pauline Lake ’13, and her teammate, Patrice Gans, a Woodbury, CT teacher, were named top-10 finalists in the Sanitation Hackathon App Challenge, a competition that spurred the development of innovative, citizen-designed and technology-enabled solutions to sanitation challenges in the developing world.
Of the top 10 finalists, the grand-prize winners were announced April 19 by the World Bank, which sponsored the December 2012 global competition in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK), Eirene, and UNICEF.
The winners were awarded a trip to the Silicon Valley in California to meet with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Although Lake and Gans were not the winning team, finishing among the top 10 best was quite an achievement.
“You should know that your app…competed in a very strong pool of creative apps, and you have much to be proud of [in] becoming a top 10 finalist. We believe that your idea and product can play a role in shaping future solutions for tackling sanitation problems,” wrote Samhir Vasdev of the World Bank.
Lake, a computer science and educational studies co-major, and Gans, a teacher at Fraser Woods Montessori School in Newtown, CT, created their App at Trinity, one of 24 global sites. It was the second consecutive year that Trinity had been selected as a global site to sponsor a RHoK gathering of software developers. Trinity’s Hackathon was co-sponsored by the Humanitarian Free and Open Software (HFOSS) program and the Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS).
For Lake, who took part in the global Hackathon for the first time, being named to the top 10 was “a great thrill and honor.” She said it was a rewarding experience to create an App that “can help humanity and that has the potential for use in the world.”
“To know that we competed in a global event was amazing,” said Lake, a Posse Foundation Scholar.
“Over 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to proper sanitation, yet over 1 billion of these people have access to a mobile phone,” said Jae So, manager of the Water and Sanitation Program at the World Bank. “The key is to use rising access to mobile phones and other communications technologies to generate solutions to entrenched challenges such as limited access to toilets, weak supply chains for sanitary products, or limited feedback mechanisms that citizens can use to voice needs and complaints.”
The App developed by Lake and Gans over the course of two days was designed to be used on an Android smart phone in Cameroon, a country where female students frequently are absent from school when they menstruate because of the lack of adequate sanitation facilities.
“The goal is to track the attendance of female students to see if there is an improvement in attendance when they have gender-friendly facilities. Now, girls miss as much as one week per month because such facilities are unavailable,” said Trishan de Lanerolle, director of the Humanitarian Free and Open Software (HFOSS) project. De Lanerolle and Computer Science Professor Ralph Morelli served as advisers to Lake and Gans.
One of the attributes of the App, explained de Lanerolle, is that it is a self-contained, stand-alone application that doesn’t have to rely on third-party services. “Everything is locally sourced,” he said.
To watch a video about the development of the App, please visit: http://vimeo.com/62219124
For more information about the Top 10 finalists and to see videos of their projects, please visit: http://sanitation.hackathome.com/
The Sanitation Hackathon took place in December in Atlanta; Cape Town; Dakar; Dar es Salaam; Dhaka; Hartford, CT; Helsinki; Jakarta; Kampala; Lahore; Lima; London; Los Angeles; Manila; Montreal; New York City; Philadelphia; Pune; Sacramento; San Francisco; Seattle; Toronto; Vancouver; and Washington D.C.
Each global site operated in a unique fashion and was facilitated by local partners and sponsors. De Lanerolle said the intent was “to encourage collaboration and foster the creative mind” in connection with finding solutions to worldwide sanitation problems.
In promoting the Sanitation Hackathon, the sponsors noted, “the War on Poop is an ugly one. In the time it has taken you to read this, a child has died because of poor sanitation. In the past 10 years, diarrhea has killed more children than all of the people lost to armed conflict since World War II, mostly due to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, or insufficient hygiene.”
The top 10 finalists in alphabetical order were:
- Empowering Girls: Monitoring girls’ school attendance to track appropriate sanitation facilities.
- LION Sync: Proving decision-makers with access to real-time data online and offline.
- LooRewards: Promoting sanitary behavior by rewarding safe sanitation practices.
- mSchool: Monitoring the status of water and sanitation infrastructure in schools.
- mSewage: Crowd sourcing the identification of open defecation sites and sewage outflows.
- San-Trac: Reminding users about hygienic practices and gathers real-time data for trend analysis.
- Sanitation Investment Tracker: Tracking investment and expenditure in sanitation at the household level.
- SunClean: Teaching sanitary and hygienic behavior through games for children.
- Taarifa: Enabling citizen reporting and tracks decision-makers’ feedback.
- Toilight: Finding toilets in a smart and easy way.
The Sanitation Hackathon was modeled on the Water Hackathon, which was organized by the World Bank Group in 2011, and which involved nearly 1,000 registered information technology professionals at 10 global locations in the development of Apps for improving delivery of water services.