Caribbean apps we look forward to in 2015
As part of their EPIC (Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean) program, InfoDev supports mobile and web developers with ideas that are worth expanding due the their potential impact. Today we talk about three of these ideas that we look forward to seeing fully developed in this new year that will not only be very valuable in facing specific problems, but will also shed light on the fact that the Caribbean is a region full of innovative thinkers.
Having to deal with middlemen is a common problem faced by agriculturists everywhere. Very often, intermediaries establish harsh guidelines that farmers or fishers have no other choice but to accept in order to sell their products—and that’s not even mentioning the commission they get. Considering that this affects small-scale farmers the most, Jamaican entrepreneurs Jermaine Henry and and Janice McLeod came up with a web and mobile application that can easily put farmers directly in touch with their customers. In this way, large businesses can make orders for produce online and farmers can sell their products directly, paying only a small commission to the website.
Agro Central was beta tested over the past two years, and the full launch is expected to happen in 2015. The plan is to expand throughout the Caribbean by 2016 and through Africa and South America by 2017-2018.
According to InfoDev, the platform will have various revenue streams, including paid subscriptions (for businesses), transactions fees (6-8%), SMS marketing for companies (agribusiness, loan entities, PC banks etc.), selling data to agricultural stakeholders and receivables extension fees.
Crime is a big issue in Jamaica, which is why developers Dave Oakley, Kashif Hewitt, Garth Thompson, Aldrean Smith thought it would be helpful to have an application that displays crime hotspots in real-time by crowdsourcing information from citizens. Through CrimeBot, any citizen can report a crime along with a geo-location to the service, which will then create a map highlighting specifically dangerous areas in the country.
To create an app that would respond to user needs, the team interviewed potential users and did research on crime in the country and around the world. They found that crimes go unreported too often because people don’t trust their authorities or they fear for their own safety. Thus, reporting a crime in through this app can be done anonymously. While this doesn’t solve the crimes, the hope is that it provides more information for authorities and citizens as to what is happening where and when.
While the app mostly relies on user’s submissions, the team hopes that Jamaican police will see the value of this type of application and will find a way to release its data openly and timely so that it can also feed into the application.
The app is already live but is only available for Android through Google Play for now. What’s coming this year are versions for iOS and Blackberry, as well as expansion through South America and Asia.
M.A.D.E. (My App for Disasters and Emergencies)
Considering the vulnerability of Caribbean countries to natural disasters, this type of application is key for all citizens to access and use. In this case, Madonna Corrian and Ade Inniss-King developed a user-focused application that provides “actionable, location-specific information about what to do before, during, and after a disaster or emergency” and connects those in need directly with first responders and disaster response coordinators, enabling them to optimally allocate resources.
M.A.D.E consists of three different components:
1. M.A.D.E – Early Warning System; Disaster Response Plans and Interactive Checklists; Family Circle; Offline Access
2. M.A.D.E Biz – Integrated Insurance, Identical to M.A.D.E but with a secure link dedicated to insurance services
3. M.A.D.E DRM – Online Disaster Risk Management training
The app is in beta testing right now (and you can sign up to try it here), but once live, it aims to reach over 400,000 users in Trinidad and Tobago alone.
Have you tried or heard of any of these apps? Are you looking forward to others in the region this year? Let us know in the comments.