UTECH students win Caribbean CODESprint

Saturday, May 30, 2015

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A group of third year students from the University of Technology Jamaica (UTech), won the Caribbean Mobile Innovation (CMIP) challenge and CodeSprint for designing a tourism-based mobile application, called iTechHotel, in just 24-hours.

iTechHotel allows hotel guests to check themselves in and order services from the convenience of their mobile phones while staying at the hotel. For their efforts, the group -- comprising Avryl Francis, Che-Andre Gordon and Rasheed Andrews -- bagged an automatic entry to the World Bank-funded CMIP PitchIT Caribbean business pitch.

The event, which was a collaboration with StartUp Jamaica, was held at the Musson Foundation e-Learning Lounge in Kingston and had five Jamaican teams along with three virtual teams, one each from Barbados, Dominica and St Kitts & Nevis, hacking out mobile applications to solve problems in agriculture, energy management and tourism.

"This was a tremendous success," declared Robert Whitehorne, project manager for CMIP.

"For the first time in recent stagings of hackathons we're able to have teams from other countries -- namely Barbados, Dominica and St Kitts & Nevis -- participate in real-time, tackling the same challenges of those in Jamaica. In the end, they made their presentations via video conferencing and proposed some compelling solutions," he added.

Second place went to another UTech Team comprising Stephan Smith, Rickardo Hyde, Brian Thompson and Mikhail Grant, which proposed MobiCrop, an agri-based app that would allow farmers to predict weather conditions and plant appropriate crops in season.

JPSGo was the name of the app presented by Steam Team -- a group from UWI -- which secured third place. The app is designed to allow JPS's prepaid customers to pre-purchase power based on a menu which predicts the usage demand of the appliances in their homes.

The team from St Kitts & Nevis, led by ICT professional Telojo Onu, proposed Nuh TekkUp -- an app for farmers to report praedial larceny in real time. They were the the Top Virtual team.

Shannon Clarke, a one-man team from Barbados, proposed a medical tourism app which allows visitors to find medical services quickly while they are on a visit to the region. His app was specially recognised as having a strong potential for development.

Economics professor Claremont Kirton, who has done decades of research in agriculture, outlined the challenges in the sector, Andrea Atkinson-Perry, group IT director of the Hendrickson group which operates a chain of hotels including the Pegasus and Holiday Inn, shared pain points on tourism, while Gina Tomlinson-Williams, head of customer service at JPS, identified opportunities in energy management for the groups to take on.

"We have a 'no-one left behind' policy in our approach. What that means for us is that we will seek to work with all eight teams, matching them with experts, mentors and even investors who can take these wonderful ideas all the way," Whitehorne explained.



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