sanhack
One of the teams hard at work at the on-going hackathon

Uganda loses $177m per year due to poor sanitation and this is one of the reason why an army of Tech developers, Tech enthusiasts, corperations and a government authority have braced themselves for a 48 hour hackathon here at Smile Communications HQ at Bukoto. Follow the event on twitter using the hashtags #SanHack and #SanHackKla.

The event is organized by Mara launchpad and Hive Colab with Smile Communication and Nokia being the Sponsors in partnership with the World bank. On Sunday, teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and stakeholders in the sanitation sector. The winners will implement their projects with key stakeholders while the other teams’ projects will continue to be developed under the Hive cob lab program by Hive Colab.

I’ve already interacted with various teams on the site and the ideas and apps coming of this hackathon will astonish you. The goal of solutions emerging out of this hackathon is one — improving sanitation in the community thereby improving health standards and hence the quality of life. Here’re some the solutions flying around the innovation camp;

HYGIENOTRONICS
Developers:

Fixx Joe Lutalo
Bornabana Younghusband

Intro

This robot detects whether or not you washed your hands and alerts you through pre-recorded robotic voices. The prototype consists of an Arduino micro-controller board, two smartphones whose cameras are used as sensors and and android app.

How it’s working now

One of the devices monitors the entrance to the toilet (sensor A) and another monitors the hand washing point(sensor B). Sensor A then notes when someone enters the toilet and when they’re about to leave, and it’s at this point that sensor A alerts sensor B to expect that someone to wash their hands. If sensor B doesn’t detect anyone washing hands in a time span of about 15 seconds, then the system assumes user forgot or is forgetting to wash their hands and it’s at this point that the voice message is played.

SANITIZE
Developer:

Victor Okweny

Intro

This is (surprise, surprise) a game that encourages or teaches the user to be more responsible in keeping the community they live in clean. It’s a unique and interesting approach to sanitisation through the concept of gamification.

How it’s working now

The games helps someone sanitize their environment. The user chooses their environment/category (personal, regional, community,national) and depending on their score, they are given a task related to the category. If you for example choose community, then the app has a Track that moves around the street and your job is to put the rubbish into the track. The more rubbish you manage to load onto the track, the more points you earn.

ABA TOII
Developer(s)

Elijah Bee
Benjamin Lutaaya
Ephraim Batambuze
Ketty Adoch
David Ebukali

Intro

This is a toilet manager that works for both private and public toilets. The app enable users to anonymously report the state of toilets to a central authority in the hope that an appropriate action is taken.

How it’s working now

Users report the start of the toilet (clean, dirty, very dirty) by scanning the QR code of the respective toilet statuses and the app automatically sends the information to a central management system. The authorities responsible then respond accordingly.

SAFE SANITARY PRODUCTS
Developers(s)

Sepuuya Derrick
Willingtone Nsubuga
Japhet Tuyishimire
Sebuya Rober
James Muranga

Intro

This android app enables users to verify the genuineness of sanitary products such as baby diapers and sanitary pads.

How it’s working now

Product manufacturers embed authentic bar codes in their products. Users before buying the products scan the product bar code using the app and this is bar code verified against the manufacturer’s database to confirm the genuineness of the product.

SANITATE
Developer(s)

Daniel Ogwok
Cynthia Francisca Babirye
Kevin John Biretwa
Allan Amayo
Christine Nafuna
Odek Samuel
Kennith Manana

Intro

It’s a sanitation reporting system that empowers user to report sanitation issues they’ve noticed in their community to the concerned authorities (KCCA, NEMA and NWSC).

How it’s working now

Using the SMS front-end, once a user for instance notices a broken water pipe in their community, they can simply send an SMS text to a predefined short code. This information is then aggregated by the system and forwarded to the concerned authorities.

TOILET-TRAC
Developer(s)

Felix Mwebe
Subhash Dandapani
SriPrasanna
Zahura Alice Norah
Ambrose Etigu

Intro

Tracks the the number of people that are using the sanitary facilities and how many are washing their hands. These usage statistics allows concerned organisations and health officials to take action (such as educational campaigns and water level checks) whenever the number of people who wash their hands goes down.

How it’s working now

Commodity line of site infrared sensors are attached to the latrine, urinal and hand wash areas. These sensors feed data to an Arduino microcontroller, which sends this data via a GPRS unit to a central system. These sensors allow us to calculate how many people visited the toilets and how many are actually washing their hands. A separate web based application processes this data and shows graphs and alerts to concerned officials.

SANILEAKS
Developer(s)

Kennith Matovu

Intro

Sanileaks is a mobile and web app that enables yours expose unhygienic facilities in the community by enabling them rate how hygienic the facilities they visit are at the public places they visit.

How it’s working now

When the user has the app installed, upon using a specific facility at whatever public place they’ve visited, they are able to tap a snap of the facility, rate it and upload the information to a publicly accessible web application where this information is aggregated and displayed to the public.

Website: http://sanileaks.appspot.com/
TRASHMASTER

Developer(s)

Charles Muhindo
Cabria Ohumure
Ronald Muvunyi
Ancel Bwire

Intro

This system composed of an android and a USSD app makes garbage disposition by users and collection by the authorities more efficient thereby ensuring a clean environment.

How it’s working now

When the user wants to dispose off some garbage and the nearest bin is full, they can simply report this information to the concerned authorities who should (hopefully) come and empty the bin. In the meantime, the system will recommend the nearest bin where the user can dump the garbage.

WHAT’S AND WHY A HACKATHON

I caught with two developers, Fixx and Younghusband, the guys behind the hygienotronic system. I wanted to understand exactly what a hackathon is and why these 48 hours hyper-active tense sessions were held. According to Fixx, a hackathon is a gathering of computer programmers who come together to collaboratively code in an extreme manner over a short period of time (usually over the weekend). The sessions are usually held to come up with specific practical technological solutions to particular problems. For instance this specific hackathon is addressing a growing concern of poor sanitation in our communities that needs to urgently be fixed.

According to Fixx, the “hack” in the “hackathon” implies that conventional software development techniques are usually not followed as solutions are required with in a short period of time.

Because companies or organisations have tight budgets and rarely care about Research and Development(R&D), hackathons are actually an opportunity for businesses to reap from the intensive and practical R&D that happens in these hackathons. Already officials from Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) are here to scout out some the solutions developed by the teams that could enable the authority improve Sanitation in the city through an improved and efficient garbage collection.

THE WINNERS

3rd Place
Hygienotronics

2nd Place
Sanitate

1st Place
Toilet-Trac

David Okwii is the senior editor for The TechPost. The following blog was posted on Day One of the Hackathon.