Like many municipalities around the world, Nablus struggles with water services management and distribution. Its system has yet to catch up to the 21st century and is full of flaws and inefficiencies. But managing the water sector is just one of many things the municipality is tasked with and in a time when local governments are more cash and resource-strapped than ever, optimization often falls by the wayside of just trying to get the job done.
Through the CityLinks App2Action Challenge, the municipality is tapping into one resource the community has an abundance of – students. Tech students to be exact.
On December 9, 2015 the App2Action Challenge kicked off with a Tech Jam held at An-Najah National University in Nablus. The day-long event brought together IT students, software developers, and subject-matter experts discuss the three primary challenges facing the municipality in the water sector:
- increasing the efficiency in water distribution
- automating communication system for water management concerns, and
- incentivizing and encouraging on-time payment for water services.
A participant asking the panelists a question.
A separate discussion panel consisting of representatives from the municipality, university professors, and experts in e-government programs, water management, civil engineering, and technology sectors was devoted to each of the challenges. A fourth panel was purely technical in focus and delved into the ESRI development platform, which was made available free of charge to all participants.
Armed with sample data from the municipality and an in-depth understanding of the water sector and its previous struggles and successes with e-government programs, competitors were given two months to develop a mobile or web-based application aimed at solving one of the three challenges for the chance to win cash prizes and a free trip to the 2016 Esri User Conference in California.