RTA Transport Hackathon
AUD Students Win First Place Designing RTA APP for Public Transport

AUD Students won first place at the inaugural RTA (Roads and Transport Authority) Transport Hackathon event, which concluded on Tuesday at the RTA Innovation Lab. The winning team came up with an app called Waselni (meaning 'to connect' in Arabic), a social networking app inspired by Facebook that encourages the use of public transport. The team was made up of American University in Dubai Civil Engineering students Dania Ayman Musallam and Mariam Mohd Hamdan Khalifeh; and University of Wollongong Computer Science students Bisher Zumot, Mansour Akbari, Mohammed Nawaz Hussain.

Eight teams from universities across the UAE participated in the two-day competition, with the objective to develop new web and mobile services that can be adapted by RTA. The winning team will represent the UAE at the 1st Y4PT (Youth for Public Transport) Global Transport Hackathon Montreal 2017, Canada - an international Hackathon that will be held during the 62nd UITP in May.

The students told Khaleej Times "Our idea is to connect the riders, like how Facebook connects everyone. So, we incorporated several features of the social network and added RTA's public transport schedules, included games, a chat feature, and a charity donations features, since we are in the Year of Giving.  We wanted to look at the bigger picture and make the use of public transport a happy experience, it is your choice to find your happiness not in a fancy car, but in a metro seat or a bus ride.”

Other teams presented apps that featured first and last mile transport solution, concepts of a "collector mini bus" to pick up passengers from homes or offices and take them to the nearest metro station, secured carpooling, tracking of traffic flow, and use of public transport rewards.

"RTA is very impressed with the ideas put forward in this hackathon, the younger generation is capable of giving and producing more innovative and creative ideas thanks to their positive work spirit, creativity, and futuristic attitudes,” commented Mohammed Obaid Al Mulla to reporters, RTA's Board Member and Chairman of the Higher Committee for hosting the UITP MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition 2018. "The Hackathon is one of RTA's initiatives intended to develop high-quality strategies to introduce community segments to use public transport instead of private transportation. In Dubai, every year, there is a growth in the number of people taking public transport, so we are focusing on how to solve this problem, for the present and future," added Al Mulla.