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App for Syrian refugee job-seekers among winners at Abu Dhabi hackathon

ABU DHABI // An app that helps to find jobs for Syrian refugees in Turkey and a device that limits water consumption were crowned winners at the New York University Abu Dhabi hackathon.

Eighty of the brightest students from universities across the globe participated in the hackathon’s seventh edition.

Ten teams had to produce technologies that promote social good in 72 hours.

Through the Hiat application, recruiters and businesses in Turkey can search for jobseekers with experience in plumbing, tailoring or a range of professions. They are instantly connected with a registered Syrian refugee who can do that job.

The service even translates the job offer to Arabic.

The mechanism is intended to support the large number of well-educated workers that have lost jobs and homes due to the conflict in the country.

“If I am a Turkish citizen and want someone to come to my house and fix the TV. I log on to Hiat, I submit a form and it goes to the user database,” explained Camilo Luciano from Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina.

He was demonstrating how the app works with his team member Amr Al Jundi, a Syrian student at the American University of Sharjah.

Mr Al Jundi receives a message from Hiat informing him of the job offer, “so I expect a message telling in Arabic the job description,” he said.

“As soon as he accepts the job, I receive a message, and he comes and fixes it, and at the moment my credit card is charged,” continued Camilo.

Then in order for the refugee to get paid for the job, he scans the bar code of any service or product he wishes to buy and sends it to Hiat. The application then pays the bill.

“They are paid through wallet systems, because refugees don’t have bank accounts,” he explained. Hiat won first place.

An automated nursing application, 3ndi Headache (I have a headache) won second place for reducing the response time for triage nursing and operating in a more efficient way.

Team members tried calling triage nursing service at a local clinic, and the entire process took up to 17 minuites.

“So we made a robot automated system, ‘Dr Fatima’, that would ask the caller for the symptoms,” explained Hayat Al Hassan, a student at NYUAD.

“Through neuro-linguistic programming and voice recognition, we built a simple decision making system that would analyse the symptoms and diagnose,” she said.

It also works simultaneously between Arabic and English and therefore accepts code switching, as indicated by the app’s name.

“The difference is that you get to describe it (the problem) the way you want to …” she added.

An Nahr, an interactive hardware/software solution, limits the amount of water used per ablution at mosques.

“Twenty to 30 litres of water are used per day for ablution for the five prayers – three litres per ablution,” said Seyed Mohammad, a student at NYUAD.

However, the team discovered the amount of water needed is much less if the person does not keep the water running during the process.

“When the water flows, our chip (placed on the tap) gets the fluoride from the sensor, calculates the water coming out of the tap.

A red light appears when the water exceeds the amount.

They shared their third place prize with the Tarakeeb app, that helps children master the Arabic language.

Sana Odeh, professor of computer science, who founder of the NYUAD hackathon, said over the years they have been witnessing outstanding results from the students.

“A hackathon is usually a practice for students. Usually one per cent succeed, but here 100 per cent have succeeded.”

Participants in earlier editionsof the hackaton found success with their creativity in the real world and landed jobs with giant companies, such as Google.

Many of them come back as mentors or judges for the hackathon, she added.

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