The World Summit Award (WSA) is a global event aimed at selecting and promoting the world's best e-content and the most innovative ICT applications. It offers a worldwide platform for all who value the creative use of ICTs and who are committed to making today’s information society more inclusive.
Arab award winners presented new innovations that directly tackle social problems in Arab societies, such as crime, corruption, sexual harassment and individual disabilities.
The winning projects were celebrated during the Cairo ICT Information Technology fair.
Ahram Online met the Arab winners of this year's WSA. Below are video interviews in which they explain their projects and why it was special to win.
"Ahram Online" interviews WSA Winner Hoda Dahrog Co-founder of Erada project
Arabic content on the Internet is very poor, according to world statistics, especially for those with special needs.
The Erada Portal is designed to make accessing the internet and information technology easier for people with visual impairments.
The project team has been working on community-development projects using information technology since 2002, and since 2007 it has focused on projects targeting the disabled.
“Blind and deaf people have magnificent ideas and abilities. We wanted them to share them with everyone via the internet and information technology, so we thought that, since we’re technology experts, we could give them the techniques, and in this sense all the content published on our portal comes from the community – we only provide the techniques," said Hoda Dahrough, regional director of the project.
"Individuals upload content and our team transforms the written data into voice recordings for blind people to use," Dahrough added.
ZABATAK: A call to end corruption and crime (Egypt)
"Ahram Online" interviews Youth Award Winner Ahmed Nagy Co-founder of Zabatak project
Egypt witnessed a spike in crime after last year's January 25 Revolution when police withdrew from the streets and confidence in state institutions plummeted.
A group of young Egyptians decided to start a new social-reporting service called Zabatak ('I caught you') to map crime hotspots.
"We decided to start the website right after the revolution to provide people with info on the danger zones," said Zabatak team member Ahmed Nagy.
"People have very important info on the places where crime takes place, but they never report them due to tension between the public and police. On our site, we put this info on the map and spot the danger zones," he added.
The total sum of stolen items successfully recovered by the initiative currently stands at more than LE1,000,000.
The team is currently developing mobile apps for Android, Blackberry and iPhone to help people report live from wherever a crime takes place. The site automatically updates its map and sends an SMS to all subscribers who are within 10 kilometres of the crime scene.
Kherna: Catering to your preference for charity (Egypt)
"Ahram Online" interviews Youth Award Winner Amira Salah Co-founder of Kherna project
Egypt has about 32,000 non-governmental organisations, but most lack the communication abilities that allow them to connect with donors and volunteers.
The Kherna Project is a social-networking platform designed to link charity and development organisations with donors, volunteers, NGOs, governmental institutions and companies, according to project co-founder Amira Salah.
The website allows all these parties to connect and plan their own activities.
Rufoof: The Emirati electronic library project (Emirates)
"Ahram Online" interviews WSA Winner Mohamed Al-Hassan Co-founder of Rufoof project
The experience of reading an Arabic E-book is sometimes unpleasant due to poor resolution, scanned pages that do not allow copying or searching the text, along with other technical problems.
This is changing now with the Emirati electronic library project (Rufoof), which has developed a new application that will radically enhance the experience of reading Arabic E-books.
"The new application, which for now works on the iPad and iPhone, allows people to read the book in a text format, underline, comment and bookmark the pages. Skimming the pages is now easier, with a high resolution that is easier on the eyes," project co-founder Mohammed Al-Hassan told Ahram Online.
The project began two years ago and has contracts with some 20 Arab publishers in Egypt, the Emirates, Kuwait and Beirut and aims to expand further into other countries.
"We aim to develop our application to work with the Android system in addition to the iPad and iPhone to allow more users to use our app," Al-Hassan said. "We also provide a free publishing service, whereby we contract with writers and publish their works online through our application that allows readers to buy it."
"Ahram Online" interviews Youth Award Winner Heba Habib Co-founder of Harassmap project
Sexual harassment is a real and growing problem in Egypt, but many people deny its existence or play down its extent.
The Harassmap.org project is a social initiative launched online that aims to trace how often and how much sexual harassment occurs and plot the phenomenon on a geographical map, according to project team member Heba Habib.
"Sexual harassment is undeniable for us, so we decided that we should give undeniable proof to those who deny it even occurs," Heba said.
Using the website is simple: users simply log onto the website and spot the place on the map where they were harassed or witnessed harassment. Every report puts a red dot around the location in question, and the more people report a particular place, the larger the red dot becomes.
"Harassment has worsened since the revolution, so our work has gained more importance. Many incidents of sexual harassment have occurred during mass protests against the army, and we believe thugs were paid to do this," Heba explained.
Monaqasat: A new, secure means of tendering (Lebanon)
"Ahram Online" interviews WSA Winner Kareem Hellal Co-founder of Monaqasat project
Monaqasat('Tenders') is a company that first launched in Lebanon and Abu Dhabi that seeks to help architects, engineers and bank managers organise tenders for new projects, according to project official Karim Helal.
"Tendering is very complicated, massive and insecure. A lot of fraud and cheating takes place, so Monaqasat created a system that’s simple to use and efficient, and allows people to make multiple tenders at the same time," Helal explained.
There are many security aspects that allow people to discover fraud, since everything in the process is fully controlled.
The project, based in both Abu Dhabi and Lebanon, has four co-founders and a 15-strong team.
The programme is currently being employed by about 700 companies in the Emirates and Lebanon. The total number of exchanges has now reached some $10 billion and the project is expanding this year into Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Algeria.
Video: Ayman Hafez