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Smart guides young innovators to develop tools aiding communities in new normal

Smart guides young innovators to develop tools aiding communities in new normal

With the coronavirus still posing threats on the public’s health, schools have continued to rely on the internet and broadcast media to continue education. The migration to these platforms, however, have been a challenge for students who come from low-income families. So, two teams came up with donating platforms aimed at helping fellow students adjust to the new normal in education.

Smart Prepaid Innovation Generation backed young innovators offering solutions to help their fellow students cope with the challenges of e-learning as well as assist local communities distribute aid to residents. 

The teams from Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU), Batangas State University (Batangas State U), University of Cebu – Main (UC-M), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), and Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan (XU) impressed their peers and mentors during the Demo Day with innovative ideas ranging from donation platforms to virtual computer labs.

Team AdZU opened a centralized donation website called ‘Gratuity’ that bridges the gap between donors and beneficiaries.

“Gratuity is for students who need school supplies, learning materials, and even tuition assistance. We amplify their call for help and connect them with generous donors,” explained Ayesha Tulete. 

The group also wants to streamline the donation process, making it simpler for charitable persons or organizations to support their causes. “Gratuity is also perfect for campaign organizers who are helping the youth but don’t have the platform to mount their initiatives,” she added.

Batangas State U’s ‘JUAN LOAD-i’ online donation platform provides a convenient and transparent way of helping fellow “Juans” in need of cash, connectivity, and devices for e-learning.

“We thought of our schoolmates, especially at the Alangilan campus, who have been struggling to cope with the disruption in education. We were inspired by the load assistance project of our student organization at the university. We thought we can develop the initiative further,” said Jads Limuel Dana.

The team plans to hand the project over to the Junior Institute of Electronics and Communications Engineers of the Philippines (JIECEP) – Batangas State University chapter, the inspiration behind their entry. The organization has committed to expand ‘JUAN LOAD-I’ further to reach students from other satellite campuses of the university.

After seeing the chaos that marred the distribution of government aid, innovators from UC-M developed ‘BGY4ALL’, a hyperlocal mobile application that helps communities distribute assistance packages to residents with the use of QR codes. 

“We have heard of citizens complaining about not receiving the promised aid even if they are qualified beneficiaries. Then we saw how disorganized the distribution was in some areas. We thought, maybe we could create an app that will help local officials streamline the process and make the distribution of assistance more efficient and safer,” said Russel Dulce.

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The team notes that BGY4ALL enables local officials send out important announcements. The tool also automatically updates the list of beneficiaries and the assistance they have received.

Meanwhile, students from Ateneo de Manila saw how teachers exposed themselves to the coronavirus whenever they physically distribute modules to students. They also witnessed how parents struggled to pick up their children’s learning materials at the school. Realizing the risks involved, team ADMU decided to create a near-cloud system that offers an avenue for teachers to distribute rich content learning materials without having to visit their students. 

“The near-cloud system is a file-sharing tool which contains open-source platforms for the distribution of educational materials. This project can bring learning materials to students with little to no internet, especially those living in remote places,” described Mikaella Salud.

The platform allows wireless file transfers in areas with little or no internet connection. The system can be installed at distribution hotspots like neighborhood sari-sari stores, barangay halls, and schools.

Participants from XU focused on the need of their fellow engineering students for powerful computers to complete their requirements. But because access to the school’s computer laboratories is still not allowed, they built ‘QNTM’, a virtual computer lab that lets their schoolmates run software on less powerful devices instead.

“We set up a cloud-based computing system that enables students to write codes and develop programs even on their mobile phones or basic computers. We decided to push for this project because many of our fellow engineering students do not have the software or the hardware needed to run resource-hungry applications,” said Bea Esclamado.

The team is confident their project will remain relevant even if the government decides to ease restrictions on face-to-face classes. They say, the platform can be offered as a virtual machine to avoid overcrowding at the school’s computer laboratories.

The five teams joined participants from 11 other SWEEP partner schools at the recent Smart Prepaid Innovation Generation. Under the program, the participants went through five months of lectures and more than 70 intense one-on-one mentorship sessions with movers and shakers from the technology space and startup ecosystem.

“Year 2020 was remarkable as we saw the youth from our SWEEP partner schools heed the call to help communities through innovation pitches via the introduction of Smart Prepaid Innovation Generation.  It was an opportunity for the youth to live their Passions with a Purpose,” said Jane J. Basas, Smart SVP and Head of Consumer Wireless Business. “We hope that they will continuously strive to Live Smarter for a Better World as they roll out their projects in their communities.

Smart’s “Live Smarter for a Better World” campaign highlights Smart’s long-running community partnership programs, enabling “personal revolutions” that generate lasting positive impact to society through connectivity and CSR initiatives.

By aiming to harness the creativity and passion of the youth for technology, the small grants program challenges the current generation to develop technology-enabled, simple solutions to help their communities adapt to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Smart Prepaid Innovation Generation reinforces that commitment of Smart and parent firm, PLDT, to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) #4 on Quality Education.  Digital literacy and education continue to be a flagship CSR program of Smart and its parent firm, PLDT, Inc.

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