Two Durban University of Technology Information Technology students received an early Christmas present after winning R15 000 for designing a Windows Phone application which can be used in times of emergency.
Called Emergency Call, this app, which was designed by third-year IT student Luxolo Tombela as well as Pivendren Naik, a first-year engineering student, helps users acquire contact details of hospitals by using voice recognition as well as global positioning satellite services to locate hospitals on a map. The user can also contact the hospital using the built-in directory.
The app was designed for the Vodacom Developer Program (VDP) student symposium, a national competition in which the two undergraduate students clinched second place in the Post Grad category. The competition is part of Vodacom’s drive to help empower South African developers to design innovative apps. A total of 13 University students participated in the competition and each student submitted an app idea which forms part of their academic projects.
The two DUT students competed against seven other universities. Apart from the R15 000 cash prize which will be divided between the two of them, Naik and Tombela also won a Nokia Windows Phone. Because Tombela “put in more work”, the two agreed that he (Tombela) would get the cell phone.
Naik said it took two weeks to design the app, saying the idea to design it was a team effort. “It was hard work. The app is relevant because it provides vital information that people need during critical times”, said Naik, adding that his share of the prize money would go towards paying his university fees.
Tombela was happy about the outcome of the competition. “We had to work via email while developing the programme but we still came up with a winning concept. To win was even greater because we were actually competing in the post graduate section whereas we’re undergraduates so we’re very proud”, he said.
Cassim Vanker, a Lecturer in the DUT IT Department said that the Department and its students started developing mobile applications over the last few months and to see such successes in a short space of time is encouraging. “Thanks to our partners at Vodacom and Microsoft for their support and encouragement”, he said.
Prins Mhlanga, Managing Executive of Digital Media at Vodacom said judging from the types of applications which were submitted during the competition, there is no doubt that the students (who participated in the competition) “have a potential to reshape the future”.
The Universities and Vodacom will explore turning some of the students’ ideas into apps which can be sold in the Vodacom App Store.
– Sinegugu Ndlovu and Nongcebo Khumalo
Pictured (L-R): DUT Information Technology Lecturer Bongani Ngxata who accompanied the students at the symposium, Luxolo Tombela who also designed the app, DUT Information Technology Lecturer and Vodacom Developer Program Coordinator at DUT and Pivendren Naik who worked with Tombela in designing the Emergency Call app which earned the two students second place in the national competition. The symposium is a result of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Vodacom and DUT earlier this year. As part of the MoU, Vodacom will host two training workshops at the University each year.