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IDIA2014 Conference
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
3-4 November 2014

Rapid and Collaborative Development of Socially Relevant Computing Solutions for Developing Communities

Jabu Mtsweni
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
South Africa

Hanifa Abdullah
University of South Africa
South Africa

Full paper


Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have an immense potential as a tool for development. It is now common knowledge that advances in the use of technology can improve economic opportunities for the poor, improve service delivery to the underserved, provide employment opportunities, and benefit social change. ICT4D projects as agents driving developmental objectives using ICTs have made some significant strides in our local communities, especially with the uptake mobile telephony in developing countries. However, many ICT4D projects still fail to meet their objectives and intended impact. At the same time other initiatives such as the hackathons, as short software development events, that foster collaborations amongst different stakeholders, including communities to work on common social challenges over a short period of time are emerging to address the technological gaps in ICT4D projects. This research expands on the extensive work that has been done over the years in ICT4D projects to propose a hackathon model that focuses on the rapid development of socially relevant technological interventions that could be implemented in communities within a shorter period of time. The approach was conceived based on an exploratory case study using a community engagement project at one of the universities in South Africa. The model centres around four key elements that could expedite the development of technological artefacts together with the community, stakeholders, and digital volunteers in ICT4D projects.

Key words

ICT4D, social development, rapid software development, hackathons, socially relevant computing, collaborations, human capital development, crowdsourcing