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Beyond the Net 3 January 2019

Zimbabwe Chapter Meetup on IoT: Converse / Create / Collaborate

On December 6th 2018, the Internet Society Zimbabwe Chapter held an Internet of Things (IoT) meetup supported by the Beyond the Net Small Grants, a programme intented to assist the Internet Society Chapters with financial support to organize initiatives that contribute to the development of their communities.

An exciting convening brought together Zimbabweans with a keen interest in solving some of the pressing issues facing the country using IoT. The meetup was a drive by the Zimbabwe Chapter to create a platform for conversations around IoT security and the potential benefits of Internet-connected devices. More so, it sought to harness innovation potential by creating a space for IoT creativity and collaboration. It ran under the tagline “Converse/Create/Collaborate.”

The meetup was engineered on the basis that in order to push the IoT Security agenda forward there is need to use a multistakeholder approach. The first section of the meetup was a conversation on the subject matter through a keynote presentation and a panel discussion. Solomon Kembo gave the keynote talk and really set the pace on what IoT was and how it would solve most of our challenges in society. He also talked about the IoT projects that the Chapter has been doing and future plans. After him was a vibrant panel discussion that consisted of James Mutandwa from the Ministry of ICT, Verengai Mabika, Internet Society Africa Senior Policy Advisor, and an upcoming IoT disrupter and innovator Harvey Binamu. Moderated by Kudzai Mubaiwa, the panel discussions raised important issues on the roles and responsibilities of manufactures, users, ISPs, and policymakers in ensuring security and privacy of connected devices. They also touched on data issues and consent as well as surveillance. James from the ministry of ICT emphasised that Digital Transformation is definitely coming and will change a lot of aspects of our day to day activities; there is therefore need for preparedness and sound policy.

The second section was the most exciting: the hackathon.  Participants were divided into 5 thematic groups: health, tourism and hospitality, agriculture, smart energy and smart cities. The whole idea behind this was to encourage IoT innovation that takes privacy and security at the forefront. OTA guidelines and various stationery was provided to the groups so that they could create IoT Solutions in the thematic areas. The room roared with excitement as the groups had 2 hours only to complete their task.

The third session was the pitching of the ideas. The groups came out with amazingly innovative ideas and presentations that pleased the audience and the panel of judges. The winning team was the smart energy team. Their solution was to implement an IoT and Big Data analytics-powered solution to measure with a higher degree of accuracy how much power is being produced, transmitted, and used in the whole power grid. This is to save energy and improve service delivery with better and faster fault detection. We intend on leveraging the Beyond the Net Grants to implement it in 2019. More so, we hope to help the other 4 projects with capacity building and access to opportunities as they were really amazing ideas that could impact the various sectors positively.

I am excited that the The IoT meetup saw more than 20 new members from the already existing 400+ joining the Chapter, networks, and collaborations created, as well as the further strengthening membership relations. We are planning to have more membership meetings across the main cities of Zimbabwe going forward to enhance participation and provide opportunities for all.

We’re looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how you can empower your community using the Internet. The Beyond the Net Funding Programme funds projects up to $30,000.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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