Jazz SDG Hackathon 2018

500+ applicants…
109 selected ….
coached by industry specialists……
proposed solutions for 29 civic problems based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals:

  • SDG Goal 3: Good Health and Well Being
  • SDG Goal 4: Quality Education
  • SDG Goal 5: Gender Equality
  • SDG Goal 9: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG Goal 11: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

The two and half days’ event, held from 7th to 9th December 2018 at the National Incubation Center, Islamabad is another feather in the cap of Code for Pakistan. The pioneer of Civic Hackathons in Pakistan, Code for Pakistan in partnership with Jazz and Open Islamabad brought together the finest minds from the twin cities. The winners of the event are:

1st Prize: Project Smart Bra for Early Detection of Breast Cancer

Team Vixen developed a prototype i.e. a smart bra which detects the symptoms of breast cancer in early stages. Targeting SDG Goal 3, the team developed a mobile app which receives data from the sensors within the smart bra. In their three minute pitch to the judges, the team showed a demo of the prototype to the judges. The project was well received as every year 40,000 women die of breast cancer. It is a very cost-effective tool for early detection and is affordable with lower household incomes.
Vixen wants to start an awareness session throughout Pakistan in tandem with the complete development of the application in future. Project details and team members information can be found here.

2nd Prize: Liquid Impurity Detector Technology in 7 seconds

Team FIDeTech developed a prototype to detect impurities in water. One of the major issues in Pakistan is contaminated water, so much so that even vegetables are grown in sewage water causing numerous gastric diseases all around Pakistan.
Focusing on SDG 9, sensors are used to detect water contamination levels according to ISO standards and transmit the data to the user using a mobile app prototyped during the hackathon.
Project details and team members information can be found here.

3rd Prize: Dost – Hum Sab Ka

Based on SDG 3, Dost is an AI based project that aims to provide help and build a support community for mental illness. The increasing rate of suicides in young people is alarming so the project aims to understand the feelings of a distressed person and accordingly provide timely support to them.
Project details and team members information can be found here.

Asim Ghaffar, President Code for Pakistan shared his thoughts:

“The idea behind activities such as this Hackathon is to promote a culture of innovation, particularly civic innovation, that is, to solve our own problems as citizens of Pakistan. Although Code for Pakistan has played with various civic themes, for the past couple of years, we have settled for SDGs; those being the common language between diverse communities such as the civic hackers, CSOs, the private sector, and Governments. I am pleased to see that our hackathons are getting more and more traction every year. Each year bigger names like Jazz and Open Islamabad are being added to the sponsors’ list, in turn, bringing in more supporters and above all brilliant hackers.”


Out of the five development goals, most of the projects were centered around SDG 3, 4 and 11. Other projects included RealPharma aimed to eradicate the sales of fake medicines; Jeroty, a project aimed to promote the cottage industry of women entrepreneurs of Gilgit-Baltistan; Smart Bins for efficient garbage collection; Tanawul, a solution to stop food wastage; ForiTaleem, a mobile application to find tutors who do not charge an arm and a leg for helping students Details about all ideas pitched during the event can be found here.

The participants of the Hackathon unanimously appreciated the ambience; the National Incubation Center, Islamabad provides a start-up based environment that nurtures the entrepreneur thinking. The food and the goody bags also nourished their ideas into reality. The participants also appreciated the help provided by the mentors on spot in steering their project in the right direction.

Nearing the end of the Hackathon, the 29 teams pitched their projects. Each team was given three minutes to pitch and two minutes to answer the questions asked by the judges. A workshop was conducted in the morning to help the participants tailor their project descriptions within three minutes of the allotted time. The teams appreciated this workshop of the Hackathon because many of them were fresh graduates and needed help in preparing their pitch.

The details, rules, and information on the judges and mentors can be found here.

Speaking at the end of the event, Ali Naseer the Head of Corporate Affairs, Jazz congratulated the winners and emphasized that

Civic Hackathons are much needed in a country like Pakistan where most of the population is between the ages of 25 to 35 years and people need to solve their own problems as they have the capacity to do so.

Ali Naseer presented the first, second and third prizes to the winners.

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat also took an active part in the Hackathon, even joining the pre-event – a panel discussion creating awareness around SDGs. He has actively been promoting the Hackathon, calling for registration; he also spoke about the importance of civic participation in such activities through his official twitter account. He appreciated the efforts and the exciting projects presented by the teams and shared some of the administrative issues around Islamabad, encouraging residents to come forward with solutions.

Hackathons are an ideal way to bring together talented individuals, creating synergies between members of the same city/community and solving civic problems. Civic Hackathon 2018 is a reflection of that.

Interview with Zartasha Naeem

Q1: Tell me something about yourself. Where did you grow up?

I was born and brought up in one of the most beautiful, famous and culturally rich areas of Pakistan, Abbottabad. Born to a family of educators, with both of my parents working as teachers, my life began with school and by the time I was four and a half I had already made it to first grade.

As the eldest child I enjoyed all the attention at home.  Growing up with two brothers, my childhood was quite a deviation from most girls. I enjoyed playing cricket and flying kites and loved having cars over dolls.


Q2: You were an excellent student throughout your studies. Tell us about your academic achievements.

I am not a studious person at all. It is something that comes to me naturally and I haven’t had to work hard. However, it doesn’t mean that I don’t like to study. I have always been a good student and got good grades. In my matriculation I got 10th position in BISE Abbottabad and for that I was awarded the National Talent Scholarship and later, a scholarship from my college as well. For my undergrad, I had to move to Peshawar and live in a hostel as I got admission in UET. Studying at UET wasn’t quite easy; it took me three years to convince my family to allow me to move cities! I messed up my first three semesters badly but always ended up getting one of the top four positions.

For my post-grad studies, I got a scholarship from GIKI but could not attend the university, so I took admission in UET once again and now I am fully engrossed in my course work.


Q3: You earned a degree in systems engineering. So how did you end up in the field of IT?

Computer Systems Engineering and IT are related fields- one emphasizes on hardware whereas the other is related to software, so it wasn’t a big shift for me as both are inter-related. The factor that made me choose IT over my parent field is its innovative and ever evolving nature. You can never call yourself an expert, everyday is a new beginning.


Q4: You have been working as a developer for different companies. Tell us about your overall work experience?

Everywhere I have worked my experience has been great, I learnt new skills and met inspirational people who helped me grow into what I am today. I started as an internee at aiztek technologies, a private company based in Islamabad where I worked on open CMSs like WordPress and developed quite a number of websites. Later I joined another company where I learnt Slim framework and how to write APIs and used it to develop cross-platform apps. It was then that I realized I needed a break from work.  I went back home and did nothing for almost six months.

As a strong believer in civic innovation, I then joined Code for Pakistan. Over here I am working as a front-end developer and polishing my skills better than I could have done anywhere else. Another great thing about being a part of this program is that I have learnt how to work with government departments. I have particularly been learning about how to handle the government as a client.


Q5: How did you find the courage to move to another city for studies and to build your career?

My mother has always been an inspiration for me. She was the first woman from our family to attend a university. She did her Masters from Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, so she too had to move to another city. I grew up listening to her experiences at university and in the hostel. Ever since I was a child I had it in my mind that one day I too will join some good university and for that, of course, I  will have to move out of my city; mentally I was all prepared.


Q6: What made you apply for the KP Civic Innovation Fellowship Program and how do you think this Fellowship is impacting your professional career?

I believe in civic innovation and have strong faith that a step towards digital revolution is a step towards better governance, which in turn is a step towards betterment of life for the whole nation. Code for Pakistan works towards bridging the gap between government and citizens  and this is exactly what we are doing at the Fellowship Program- developing systems that can help shape a new digital revolution in KP.

Before joining this platform I had never worked in a team. For me the biggest achievement so far is that I am using my skills and abilities to help the people of KP alongside grooming myself as a team-player.


Q7: Do you take interest in any field other than IT?

I am very inclined towards arts. I feel like every piece of art is a complete story in itself. Every small piece has its own logic and meaning and these small pieces add up to form the big picture, that only delicate hearts can feel.


Q8: Share some of your greatest passions in life with us.

Funnily, unlike most of the people that I know who want to be role-models and an inspiration for others, the biggest passion of my life is to travel to Spain. I want to observe its rich culture closely, visit its huge libraries and art galleries daily, enjoy all the festivities going on there and gather everything that I can. Eventually I would like to publish a book about my adventures.


Q9: How would you categorize your biggest strengths and weaknesses in life?

In my opinion my biggest strength and weakness is my calmness. Sometimes it comes in very handy as I avoid conflicts but at the same time it prevents me from responding the way I should in certain situations.


Q10: Is there anyone or anything that you idealize?

If there is anything that I idealize, it’s diversity and adaption. I love it when people can have conversations about so many things- they can talk about social issues, they have updated information about technology etc. Ironically, as much as I love being a person who possesses knowledge about various disciplines, I am always lagging behind.  

I idealize people who have the ability to adapt to any situation and any environment and yet be themselves. I am ever afraid of moving out of my comfort zone. I find it very hard to adapt to new things and changing environment. Although I have managed to overcome my fears to a great extent, some part of me still feels like it’s not enough. I need to work more on myself.


Q11: How do you spend your leisure time? And what are the things that you avoid?

When you are the only girl in your home it’s very difficult to find spare time, even if you haven’t got anything to do. I am always busy, talking of course! I am also fond of reading; whenever I have some spare time I find myself hooked to a good book. Apart from reading, I do nothing; it’s your free time, if you are not free then it’s not your leisure time.


Q12: What message would you like to give to our readers?

The only message that I would like to give is that own your failures as you own your success. If you don’t have the courage to own your failures then you will never find the courage to move on. Failures are a critical part of your life. If you fail you learn two things: why did you fail? And how do you correct it? Making mistakes and failing isn’t a big deal but not learning from them is another big failure.