Students show the way ahead for RTA Filed on March 28, 2017
Students show the way ahead for RTA
Students of University of Wollongong, winners in RTA Transport Hackathon with Mohammed Obaid Al Mulla, Board Member of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Chairperson of the Higher Organizing Committee during the award announcement, bringing transport solutions in Dubai. 28 March,2017. Photo by Shihab

The RTA was impressed with the ideas.

A social networking app, inspired by Facebook, that encourages the use of public transport won at the inaugural RTA (Roads and Transport Authority) Transport Hackathon event, which concluded on Tuesday at the RTA Innovation Lab in Al Sufouh Tram Depot, Dubai.

Eight teams, composed of college students from universities across the UAE, participated in the two-day event that started on Monday, to collaborate and build new web and mobile services that can be developed by the RTA. The team captain of the winning team will also represent the UAE at the Youth Conference for Public Transport in Canada this May.

The winning team came up with an app called Waselni (which means 'to connect' in Arabic). The team was made up of University of Wollongong Computer Science students Bisher Zumot (captain), Mansour Akbari, Mohammed Nawaz Hussain; and American University in Dubai civil engineering students Dania Ayman Musallam and Mariam Mohd. Hamdan Khalifeh.

"We designed our concept as a sort-of-Facebook app for RTA," Zumot, 21, told Khaleej Times. "Our idea is to connect the riders, like how Facebook connects everyone. So, we incorporated several features of the social network and added RTA's public transport schedules, included games, a chat feature, and another one to send charity donations - since we are in the Year of Giving.

"Some existing apps focus on specific features, but we want to look at the bigger picture and make the use of public transport a happy experience," added the 21-year old Jordanian expat, who will represent the UAE at the upcoming UITP Global Public Transport Summit in Montréal, Canada from May 15-17 this year.

The team took one day to design the app and Zumot is confident that with RTA's help, the app can be rolled out in six months. The second best team, from Ajman University, came up with an app that features a first and last mile transport solution. They presented the concept of a "collector mini bus" to pick up passengers from homes or offices and take them to the nearest metro station. Other concepts presented included secured carpooling, tracking of traffic flow, and use of public transport rewards.

The RTA was impressed with the ideas. Mohammed Obaid Al Mulla, RTA's board member and chairman of the higher committee for hosting the UITP MENA transport Congress and Exhibition 2018, said: "The younger generation is capable of giving and producing. It is more innovative and creative thanks to their positive work spirit, creativity, and futuristic attitudes.

"The Hackathon is one of RTA's initiatives intended to develop high-quality strategies to introduce community segments to use public transport instead of private automobiles," added Al Mulla.

Angel Tesorero

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