Tech-savvy Ivorians beat the traffic

Sick of traffic on your morning commute? Or, for that matter, gridlock any time of the day? Thanks to CivRoute, a project initiated by four tech-savvy Ivorians, driving has become a more efficient, less stressful experience. That’s crucial for this country with limited roads but a rising number of cars and subsequent congestion.

By Selay Marius Kouassi, Abidjan

“I was once stuck in major gridlock when driving a sick friend to the hospital,” recalls Cyriac Gbogou, a 32-year-old blogger and social entrepreneur. “It then occurred to me that, had I been informed in advance, I could have avoided the traffic jam. Fortunately, we managed to get to the hospital in time to save my friend’s life.”

Gbogou is one of the pioneers of CivRoute, a website born from the frustration of being constantly stuck in Abidjan’s traffic jams. When he came up with the idea of using information technology and social media to deal with this everyday problem, he decided to work with friends.

Lucky for him, his friends-turned-colleagues were no strangers to technology. Israël Yoroba, 30, is a journalist and blogger. Twenty-year-old Maryana Lym is responsible for updating CivRoute’s content. Manassé Dehe, a 26-year-old web developer, sorts the data and takes care of geo-localization and authentication issues before positing information to the project’s website and in related networks.

How it works
Summarizing how it operates, Gbogou explains: “CivRoute relies on crowdsourcing. We get the people to participate in the project. Teamwork is at the heart of this project.” Via SMS, email, Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of contributors, often anonymous, send road updates to the CivRoute server.

Christiane Apo, a switchboard operator at a local firm, is one such contributor. “I often SMS road updates to CivRoute for other road users to freely benefit from, since I also use the same services at no cost,” she explains.

Paul Kouamé, who delivers freshly baked bread across the city, is proof that up-to-date traffic information benefits business. “National road agencies scarcely inform commuters about ongoing road works, which considerably slows down traffic,” he says. READ MORE…

image credit: BBC News


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