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    ICT Minister Witnesses Accessible Smart Cities Hackathon Closing Ceremony

    Cairo, 15 February 2020

    The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has witnessed the closing ceremony of Accessible Smart Cities Hackathon, organized by the National Academy of Information Technology for Persons with Disabilities (NAID), on February 12-14, in collaboration with the British Council, University College London (UCL), the Global Disability Innovation (GDI) Hub and Microsoft.
    The Hackathon is an innovation competition that brings together smart solution developers, to develop technological solutions to challenges in 54 hours. It aims to create a technologically advanced environment in modern cities to support the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and help them have an equal independent life. This helps achieve the vision of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) for supporting PwDs inclusion in the society using IT.
    The ICT Minister, in his speech at the closing ceremony, stated that MCIT will continue exerting efforts to support all the initiatives that target harnessing technology to serve PwDs, which is a top priority of MCIT for overcoming different challenges facing PwDs.
    Talaat said that this year’s Hackathon stands out for bringing PwDs together with other young people, delivering a strong message that everyone is equal and that PwDs are capable of producing technology.
    During the Hackathon, the participants presented lots of innovative technological solutions and ideas that contribute to overcoming the challenges featured in this year’s Hackathon. The Hackathon also included several workshops, organized in collaboration with UCL and Microsoft, in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT), as well as discussing how Assistive Technology (AT) contributes to achieving digital transformation.
    “Irshad” team won the first place for creating an AI-based system that allows visually-impaired people to recognize objects, measure distances and distinguish between them, through a mobile application for PwDs.
    In the second place came “Team B” that created an integrated system that uses proximity technology to serve visually-impaired people. The system consists of a developed eco-friendly stick and a smart tape with sensors, placed in metro stations and streets, making it easier for visually-impaired people to find their way and alerting them in case there is an obstacle.
    “Error 404” team won the third place for creating a system consisting of an application for visually-impaired people, that enables them to book public transport trips and notifies them of the bus arrival. The system also notifies the bus driver of the PwDs location.
    “Get Access” team won the fourth place for their project involving 3D printing technology. The team developed a number of accessories that can be installed to wheelchairs, to empower physically-impaired people to perform different tasks independently.
    Winning the fifth place was “PIx Wheels” application that provides a system that uses image analysis technology and AI to enable quadriplegic patients to move wheelchairs with their eyes.
    The Advisor to the ICT Minister for Social Responsibility and Services and NAID Chairman Abeer Shakweer said that the true value of ICT lies in providing innovative out-of-the-box solutions and ideas, to overcome society challenges and support all segments of society. She added that innovation activities at NAID come as an implementation of the presidential initiative for including and empowering PwDs using ICT. The initiative also targets facilitating PwDs lives through providing AT in Arabic.
    For his part, Innovation Director at NAID Fady Nabil stated that this year’s Hackathon brought together around 60 young people, most of which were PwDs, with activities taking place in an inclusive environment. AI and AT experts from UCL, who attended the Hackathon, advised and helped the young innovators to develop and turn their innovative ideas into technological products to serve PwDs, according to the latest global standards.
    A number of prototypes were also created from the innovative ideas participating in the innovation lab at NAID.
    Furthermore, Microsoft experts, who attended the Hackathon, shared their expertise with the participants and joined the workshops on the latest global standards that Microsoft applies in AI to serve PwDs.
    The winners received cash prizes, technological support and continuous guiding and mentoring, to develop their ideas and turn them into technology products to serve PwDs and contribute significantly to increasing their inclusion in the society.

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