Young brains develop graft disruptor app
Harriet [email protected]
Disgusted by runaway corruption in the country, five girls decided to do something about it.
“What if we help highlight the corruption hotspots and report real-time, when unscrupulous police officers and government officials are engaging in graft?” they thought.
With this in mind, the quintet: Jasmine Kaberi (11), Ngatha Muriuki (11), Kinya Muriithi (12), Bianca Thyaka (13) and Aaliyah Muriithi (14), developed a corruption disruptor app.
The app includes a geo-map that highlights the most corrupt areas in the city. Users can report corruption, naming the location and government departments involved.
Data collected automatically populates a page showing the number of complaints received by each department; a challenge to departments to be more honest and helpful.
Their efforts were recently noticed, and they were awarded the Global Social Impact Award by Nairobi Tech Gift.
The award recognises their technology solution as being the most impactful at the Technovation Girls Global award ceremony.
That was the seventh award of the competition which has been running for the non-profit global tech education for nearly 15 years.
“Taking part in the Technovation Girls Challenge 2020, made us realise the importance of functional technology and that we can contribute to empowering, changing and creating sustainable technology at a community based level,” says Ngatha.
At first, they all had different ideas and had to do some research, on how they would solve each problem and what the potential benefits would be.
They settled on corruption because it is a crucial problem in the country.
“Police corruption, for instance, is an everyday occurrence that affects everyone either directly or indirectly.
Our team specifically focused on Nairobi because it is the capital city and that is where we are located.
The Corruption Disruptor is an app that will help reduce corruption in a simple, smart, dependable fashion,” says Kaberi.
The girls who are home schooling, credit their mentors for guidance and support from its conception to troubleshooting, technical advice as well as moral support to the development of our app.
The name comes from the disruption that the app will bring to the occurrences and patterns of corruption.
They began their project in early February and although the competition ended in May, they continued to work together till July.
They would meet and discuss their ideas as well as their business model way before they even began coding. They agreed to use Thunkable to code the app.
“Coding was a bit challenging at first especially when we had to start meeting virtually.
We also polled our target audience and found that the most common corruption that citizens had encountered was with the Police department.
This information helped us to make changes in our app that would be beneficial to our users,” recalls Kaberi.
Their first Android Package (Apk) was a flop, as it had some functionality issues. They are currently in the process of submitting their app to the Android app stores.
They have coded a new feature and debugged the whole app which was a bit taxing but exciting. The team faced many challenges particularly in this Covid 19 season.
“We could no longer meet physically. This meant we had to meet virtually which was not effective,” says Kinya.
For Kaberi and Ngatha, their passion in technology began when they were just seven years old. They fell in love with tablets and phones.
Kinya’s passion in technology began at age 11, and though they begun the Technovation challenge , she still had no idea what she was doing.
“After a few weeks, I gained confidence and interest in technology. I wanted to learn how I could use coding to solve everyday problems,” she recalls.
Thyaka developed passion in technology when he was just nine years old , when she participated in her first coding camp, organised by Microsoft under the “Youthspark Camp Code.”
As for Muriithi, technology has been part of her life, but she took interest in coding a few years ago.
“I was about 11 when I started using Scratch to code. It’s wonderful to be able to graduate to more complex coding languages,” she says.
Her role model is her father who is a software engineer and has assisted her to understand matters of coding.
In future , the girls hope that data collected can be used to analyse corruption in Kenya and that it can be useful for citizens as well as anti-graft agencies.
“This year all participants in the Technovation programs - from the girls and families participating to the volunteer mentors, showed amazing adaptability and resilience to complete projects, especially our Technovation Girls as Covid-19 impacted much of their season.
Current events also influenced some of the projects the teams developed, we had several mobile apps that addressed issues around coronavirus,” said Tara Chklovski, chief executive officer and founder, Technovation.