Kathmandu developers use code to solve the city’s urban challenges

The first CityApp Appathon organized jointly by Microsoft and CITYNET (The Regional Network of Local Authorities for the Management of Human Settlements) ended successfully on 15th March, 2014. This very first Appathon, a true depiction of Microsoft’s people-centric approach in collaborating with cities, saw the participation of 103 developers across Nepal building web and mobile applications to solve Kathmandu’s biggest urban challenges.

The CityApp Kathmandu project brings together government officials, developers, and citizens to conceptualize, build and implement innovative mobile and web applications to promote a healthier, safer, more sustainable environment to live in. The pilot attracted a submission of 57 solution blue prints and the participation of 103 developers who spent three days, two nights to produce an outcome of 30 web and mobile apps to solve Kathmandu’s urban challenges.  The event opened on 13th March at Dhulikhel, Nepal and ended on 15th March evening with the winners being announced.

CITYNET and Microsoft signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2013 which laid the foundation for future collaborative projects in urban development. CityApp Kathmandu 2014 is the first fruit of this partnership, and connects Microsoft’s global experience, innovative tools, and resources with the CITYNET network.

Thanks to the dedicated team at Microsoft Innovation Center Nepal led by Allen Tuladhar, strategic and invaluable counsel by John Cann, and strong resounding support from Stefan Sjöström, the Appathon came to life and earned many compliments from the Nepali Government officials.

“This is an amazing event and I want to thank CITYNET and Microsoft for organizing it. The apps that our citizens have created will go a long way in ensuring the socio-economic sustainability of our city. It is a great showcase of the power of technology and the role it can play in making cities better for people,” said Kathmandu CEO Mr. Laxman Aryal.

From L to R – John Cann, Dr Shisir Manandhar (CityNet), Jennifer Chen, Mr Laxman Aryal (CEO Kathmandu), Prof Hwang (Seoul University), Stefan Sjöström

The first place winning app, a solution focusing on public safety called Safety Whistle, was submitted by Yashasvi and teammates Anish Ansari, Gopal Kandoi and Rumi Shakya, who made up Team Conscientious. In this app, users can enter two to three emergency contact numbers and two to three emergency email addresses. If the user is ever in a situation they feel threatened or require assistance, the user simply presses the panic button to activate the app, which will send an SMS or email to the designated contacts. Information will also be sent to the police noting the location of the emergency.

Other winning apps include a patient-centric application that captures interactions between a health care provider and a patient; an app that tracks public transportation arrival times; an information portal that supports communication and collaboration between citizens and the government; and a crowdsourcing app that helps citizens connect to help each other solve community based problems together.

“This groundswell of ideas from the Appathon is a hallmark of Microsoft CityNext, which broadens the city innovation conversation beyond infrastructure alone, centering on helping cities unlock their most important resource—the potential of their people,” said Stefan Sjöström, Vice President of Asia Public Sector at Microsoft.

Stefan Sjöström, Vice President of Asia Public Sector at Microsoft and Honorable Prakash Man Singh, Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal at the closing and award distribution ceremony of CityApp.

Winners of CityApp Kathmandu 2014 will work with the Microsoft Innovation Center in Nepal to incubate and further develop their ideas. Amongst these 5 winners, one team will get an opportunity to showcase their app to city and government officials at the World Cities Summit in Singapore on 1-4 June 2014.

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