RANGOON — The results are in for local tech hub Phandeeyar’s #MaePaySoh hack challenge, an elections app competition that saw more than 100 of Burma’s best and brightest software developers battle it out for big prizes.
The grand prize went to Team Pop Stack, a group of five university students who designed the MVoter2015 app, available on Android and iOS on Oct. 4. The team will take home US$4,000 and a chance to enter Facebook’s FBStart program.
The program, which team members said had an edge because of its “simplicity and easy user interface,” lets users easily peruse candidates in their constituencies, providing detailed personal information and party affiliation for each contender.
In the dizzying context of Burma’s forthcoming general election—contested by more than 6,000 candidates vying for 1,170 seats in the national, state and regional legislatures—MVoter2015 is sure to take off as a useful resource for the country’s growing number of Internet users.
“Although we couldn’t put in a lot of different functions,” said team member Myat Min Soe, a third year student in the KMD business information technology course, “we made sure we had all the important ones.”
Info on the user-friendly app is mostly formatted in Burmese language, and can be viewed in either Unicode or Zawgyi. Instead of navigation tools, the program uses easy-to-use tabs so voters can effortlessly peruse candidate and party info, frequently asked questions, basic polling info and voter lists.
Phandeeyar Tech program manager Thiha Aye Kyaw, who organized the #MaePaySoh challenge—the phrase means “let’s vote” in Burmese—said participants were judged on four criteria: utility; ease of use; execution; and innovation.
Three other teams were also awarded prizes, valued at $2,000 for second place and $1,000 each for third place and honorable mention. All four winning teams will be entered in the Accelerate track for the FBStart program, which supports startups through mentorship, tools and services valued at up to $80,000.
Winning software will be available for download on the Google Play and iOS stores as of Oct. 4, and will be showcased on MaePaySoe.org. The 20 other websites and mobile apps submitted will be featured on the Asia Foundation website, according to program manager Susan Lee, who said that Phandeeyar will also help to disseminate the apps as broadly as possible.
Lee said the winning app will also get a boost from Telenor, one of two foreign mobile service providers to enter Burma in recent years. As part of the company’s corporate social responsibility projects, Telenor will feature MVoter2015 in its “lighthouses”, community information centers that provide socially and economically beneficial information to communities across 37 rural townships in Burma.
While the hack challenge lasted two weeks and has officially come to a close, the winning developers still have a few busy weeks ahead before launching their products. Team Pop Stack plans to use the FBStart platform to promote its services before handing it over to users.
Myat Min Soe said the team was overjoyed to win the competition.
“We just hoped for the third prize, at first,” he said. “We didn’t have much hope when second place was announced, but we were really happy when we found out we won first prize.”
The winners of the #MaePaySoh hack challenge:
First prize: Team Pop Stack, MVoter2015, Android and iOS
Second prize: Team SSYGM, Mae
Third prize: Team Koe Koe Wave, MaePaySohKoeKoe website and app
Honorable mention: Team Palartar, Electroscope website