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By 23 July 2014 | Categories: news

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IBM has announced that its entrepreneur programme is gaining momentum in South Africa, with the company noting that it is driving innovation in the South African start-up community. The programme has helped produce a new vehicle alert system and mobile application called “Road Buddy”. This is a first of a kind road safety concept and mobile application that is intended to address the need for a more proactive approach to road safety for road users.

Road Buddy was designed in collaboration with engineers at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and developed by some of Cape Town’s best software designers. Road Buddy(download here: bit.ly/iTunes) works by transmitting warning signals from more vulnerable road users such as cyclists, motorists, joggers, emergency vehicles and pedestrians, to any motor vehicle, including trucks and emergency vehicles.

The unique aspect of Road Buddy is that it’s designed to facilitate a global send-and-receive warning system to road users anywhere in the world. This system is built on new cloud computing technology that enables the company to offer the service on a global scale, and without being limited to a single country or geographical location. Together with Google Maps technology, Road Buddy also allows for users to send SOS stress messages to selected friends and family members, creating responsiveness to emergency situations.

Road Buddy was conceptualised in 2006, by local entrepreneur Werner van der Westhuizen, of EMEWS Vehicle Warning Systems. The company’s launch iteration of Road Buddy addresses the principle of prevention. “Imagine if there was a way that you could be warned that someone riding a bicycle was approaching your car before you could see them, or that an ambulance was approaching at top speed with a critical patient. This is what Road Buddy does,” says van der Westhuizen. It works in the same way a GPS signal would when it delivers an audio warning such as “Warning, bicycle approaching!”, along with a visual representation of the approaching object to warn the motorist of imminent danger. (For video presentation of this visit: bit.ly/youtube and bit.ly/watch) 

“Working with next generation entrepreneurs in this programme, we specifically look at how we and use new technologies like cloud computing and analytics to provide solutions to important global issues – including water, transportation, healthcare and the environment,” says Clayton Booysen, Ecosystem development manager, at IBM South Africa. “In the case of Road Buddy, our SoftLayer cloud platform not only helps them get to market quickly but potentially expands into a global market to impact the way people live and work and potentially prevent accidents on the road.”

“The Road Buddy system is the first invention to be powered by IBM’s SoftLayer Cloud model in our market and programme.” says Booysen. The model gives enterprise quality cloud infrastructure as a service. The model has all the IT bells and whistles including optimization, efficiency, storage and security at a scalable price point that helps them grow.”

“We decided to partner with IBM, via the programme, to bring this new technology to market and support the ambition to take this global. The opportunity exists to save lives and that’s totally invaluable. If by using this app we all become a little more aware, a little safer then we have succeeded,” notes van der Westhuizen.

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