Digital 'hackers' pitch practical solutions to COVID-19 crisis


Digital 'hackers' pitch practical solutions to COVID-19 crisis

Friday, June 26, 2020

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To assist in combating the threats of doing business during and after the COVID-19 crisis, National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited (NCB) recently invited some of Jamaica's brightest young technocrats to design and pitch practical and innovative digital solutions for a $500,000 top prize.

From a total of 400 applicants, 18 local teams were short-listed to participate in the three-day hack-a-thon dubbed Hack-celerate.

The contest saw the teams pitching a wide range of technological solutions businesses can use to navigate the current COVID-19 situation and emerge stronger in the post-crisis period.

The winning pitch was developed by The Outliers team, who tackled overcrowding in business places and managing long customer queues.

“We saw an avenue to express our creativity innovatively,” said Tuwanie Morgan, a member of the winning team.

“Our team has always sought to capitalise on opportunities like these that help us solve issues and create value for society. It is even more important that we entered in such a time, because innovation is needed for the way forward as we begin living in a new normal,” Morgan said.

“This solution could solve a problem that Jamaica has been battling for years and will help prove that Jamaica can be extraordinary in the tech space and build out our economy,” added Morgan.

The winning team created a concept that would allow individuals to virtually join a line before leaving home to reduce physical crowding.

The innovative concept will enable people to search for the businesses they wish to conduct a service with, view the existing queue and wait time of different company branches, and use the individual's geo-location to suggest the closest branch to them whose queue they can join virtually.

Morgan, along with teammates Carlton Gordon and Tia Gay O'Gilvie, won not only the cash prize, but also an opportunity to develop a proof of concept with the sponsors of the event.

“As we look for ways to live, work, and do business safely during these challenging times, technology and innovation will be integral to everything we do,” an NCB release quotes Nadeen Matthews Blair, chief digital and marketing officer. “It's not just about achieving greater efficiencies in business anymore; it's also about preserving lives, protecting our people, and finding ways to adapt to the new normal that we're living in.”

The event was hosted in partnership with Innovate 10x, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Pharmacy Association of Jamaica, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and the Ministry of Science, Energy, and Technology.

“I am passionate about our youth leveraging the power of science to develop solutions that guarantee a better quality of life for all citizens,” the release quotes Science, Energy, and Technology Minister Fayval Williams. “The work being done in the creation of health care and business solutions by our young innovators is heartening.”

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