A Maldivian developer has won the first place in a hackathon – an event where programmers collaboratively build programmes and applications – held in Malaysia.
Shafiu Hussein's application, which allows people to check taxis, was voted the first among 15 projects done by 60 designers and developers who participated in the hackathon held by Weekend.my from December 10-11.
Shafiu, who was the lead developer and designer at Geeks Company, received the idea to develop Taxi Watch from a recent experience he and his wife had in a taxi, which had a malfunctioning metre.
"As the taxi started, the metre kept spinning like a Spinning Roulette wheel. Since it was raining, we couldn't just stop and get out. I asked the driver what is wrong with the meter, why is it spinning so fast? He kept saying nothing is wrong with the meter," he said.
"And we ended up paying 16 Ringgits for just 8kms, which is twice more than it's supposed to be."
It took about four hours of hacking to get the SMS into the database and retrieve records from the database and another two hours to get the web interface working nicely.
"A week before the hackathon I searched for Malaysian SMS service providers and found a company providing SMS service at an affordable price. I talked them into giving me a test account," Shafiu said.
"Once the template was completed and pushed to server I got some feedback from neighbouring hackers that it looked nice."
Shafiu was voted the first because Taxi Watch incorporates a simple idea and that it solves a problem common in Malaysia.
"Everyone said that it was a cool idea and the design was also nice. Also they loved the part that it works over SMS because people don't need to have internet on their phone to run a check on a taxi or to report a taxi," he said.
The application works in a simple way; if a taxi driver cheats or the taxi has a rigged metre and it charges way more than it should, the user can send the number plate of the taxi via SMS.
"And once the site receives the SMS it will store it with the number plate. So next time before you get into a taxi you can SMS to the same number with the keyword check and the number plate number and it will reply how many feedbacks are there on this taxi and what are they," Shafiu told Haveeru.
Shafiu plans to share the user feedbacks with the taxi operators in order to improve their services.
"And when this service is established in Malaysia, I plan to provide this service in other cities as well because this is a global problem," he said.
Shafiu will soon be hosting Taxi Watch on a proper domain and will be redesigning and improving it soon.