Friday 10 July, 2020

Digital hackers pitch practical solutions to COVID-19 crisis

The winning pitch of the NCB hack-a-thon tackled the issue of overcrowding in business places, and managing long customer queues.

The winning pitch of the NCB hack-a-thon tackled the issue of overcrowding in business places, and managing long customer queues.

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

Out of over 400 applicants, 18 local teams were shortlisted to participate in the three-day hack-a-thon dubbed ‘Hack-celerate’, pitching a wide range of technological solutions businesses can use to navigate the current COVID-19 crisis and emerge stronger in the post-crisis period.

The winning pitch was developed by a team called, ‘The Outliers’, who tackled the issue of overcrowding in business places, and managing long customer queues.

“We saw an avenue to express our creativity in an innovative way,” said Tuwanie Morgan, a member of the winning team. “Our team has always sought to capitalise on opportunities like these that help us to 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 added, “This solution could possibly solve a problem that Jamaica has been battling with for years, and will help to prove that Jamaica has the capacity to be extraordinary in the tech space and build out our economy.”

The winning team created a concept which would allow individuals to virtually join a line before leaving home in order to reduce physical crowding. It will allow 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, using the individual’s geolocation, suggest the closest branch to them where they can virtually join the queue.

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

Nadeen Matthews Blair, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer at NCB observed: “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. 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 ‘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 (PSOJ) 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,” said Fayval Williams, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology. “The work being done in the creation of healthcare and business solutions by our young innovators is truly heartening.”

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