Humans have continuously developed means to adapt, progress, and face daily challenges. Today, we call these means “technology”, and we use it daily to communicate, learn, work, and connect to the outside world. Technology has continued to develop, reaching the advanced stages of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Internet of Things (IOT), including programming languages and much more. Most recently, these helped level up our daily practices, and sustained communities at a time of disconnection during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back in April, 2020, the UNDP Accelerator Lab in Iraq sensed potential opportunities in advanced technology to design and find local solutions to the current situation related to the coronavirus pandemic. Following this, the UNDP AccLab Iraq started to engage with mapped technology-based local initiatives and groups to design digital solutions for a set of worth-solving problems within country development challenges. One of these mapped initiatives, CS50x-Iraq, is a local startup in Iraq that is registered as a private sector by a group of young programmers. This startup aims to provide digital and computing services to solve local challenges. The founders of this startup are certified development trainers who are enrolled in the largest class in the world for computer science and the art of programming at Harvard University.
At the core of the programmer’s task is serving users needs, but the machine mindset requires a bridge to reach in-depth human needs. At this point, the UNDP Accelerator Lab intervened presenting the “bridge” through delivering an intensive Human-User Centered Design Training that helped raise levels of production, design, and expand thinking from isolated desks due to the pandemic to the surroundings of end-users. In parallel, the UNDP Accelerator Lab was working to sense and explore country development challenges within three domains; E-Learning, Climate Changes and Entrepreneurship, to lay the ground for CS50x-Iraq to work on ideating innovative tech-based solutions for the current context. Their efforts resulted in the innovation of 11 tech-based projects by over 20 Iraqi youth who have been trained by CS50x-Iraq on the latest programming languages to enable them to innovate tech-based solutions for the challenges identified by the UNDP AccLab in Iraq.
These solutions saw light during the recently held CS50x-Iraq Fair 2020-2021 in Baghdad, which presented customized solutions for the Iraqi market context during the pandemic, and for the post-pandemic period. This fair came synchronously with the Harvard fair event (founder of CS50x). The Fair was organized by CS50x-Iraq and sponsored by Earthlink tele-communication company in cooperation with technical sponsors including the UNDP-Accelerator Lab in Iraq, Integrated Path, The Station for Entrepreneurship, BandTech Company and Codi startup.
These digital solutions were presented during a well-organized exhibition with the presence of various audiences from the private/public sectors in addition to INGO/NGOs and interested individuals. If you are interested to learn more, please visit the link below to take a tour of the virtual event hall: http://projects.cs50x-iq.com
Currently, the lab is experimenting within the era of digital solutions on the challenges identified to scale them up to reach their final destination. Below, the solutions developed by the CS50x-Iraq students to the problems identified by the UNDP Accelerator Lab Iraq are illustrated.