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INFRATRACK Encouraging TEchnovaTion Omraan, the global contest for urban tech start-ups, was launched in 2014 by the New Cities Foundation – an international non-profit – and Oasis500, an early stage and seed investment company in Amman, Jordan, with an aim to nurture the most creative and forward-thinking technology start-ups from across the globe, and develop their ideas into concrete projects in Middle Eastern cities, for the benefit of cities worldwide. Omraan has announced its first round of shortlisted applicants that will vie to win $30,000 of seed funding and a 100-day acceleration program in Amman, Jordan. A total of eight outstanding startups and innovators, each with an idea to make cities better through technology, were selected by an international jury to contend for the prestigious award. These include: Adsvolution (Spain): An interactive information platform in which the user can view topics of interest related to the urban environment. The platform offers advertising services for three types of contracts: interactive, static and video. It also offers the possibility of integrating climate sensors, noise, and pollution, traffic which makes the app fully customized and fits the needs of a city. AgroCentral (Jamaica): Jamaica’s first digital agricultural clearinghouse utilizing Web-to-SMS/SMS-to-Web technology to connect small farmers and businesses. Through Agrocentral, businesses will have the ability to source large amounts of crops directly from farmers and farmers will be able to sell their available produce directly to businesses. Cidadao21 (Brazil): A startup focused on reducing bureaucracy and simplifying processes within civic authorities. The Cidadao21 team has created a series of simple technologies that focus on streamlining internal processes and increasing transparency for the benefit of citizens. technology there are multiple ways to Green Power Solutions (Jordan): Offering a comprehensive solution that involves make residential, commercial and public replacing old lighting systems with a Smart-High-Efficiency System, using LED lights spaces sustainable, however, it largely instead of the existing HIDs/HPS lights. Their new system is achieved by sensing and also depends on the end user and his reacting to approaching vehicles where lights are only switched on at the presence of consumption behaviour. Planners and vehicles and remain off on empty roads. governments also need to avoid – ‘the one size fits all’ theory here as the concept LifeBridge (Poland): A Smart City E-Health innovation. The solution will considerably of Smart Cities varies across nations. A reduce the delay in first-aid response in case of accidents and life threatening Smart City in Middle East might not be the situations. With LifeBridge, a non-expert may perform basic life-saving activities same as in India. Smart cities can either before professional emergency response teams arrive at the scene. The application be horizontal or vertical, depending on the is not a substitute for professional responders, but complementary to them. space available. Singapore is an example of a vertical Smart City, while Masdar in Let’s Ride (India): The Pune-based Let’s Ride is a mini social platform for ridesharing Abu Dhabi is a horizontal Smart City. that addresses road congestion and commuting problems with an aim to reduce the More than ever, cities will now play a number of vehicles on roads at peak hours. The idea is to connect people from the very important role as engines of growth, same area for ridesharing through a web and mobile application. as India is gearing towards double-digit development. Well-planned cities not Meezan (Jordan): Meezan develops technology solutions for building, farming and only uplift the quality of life, but are energy/water saving for Jordan and the Arab World. It combines five systems in also consistent with rapid, inclusive and one unit that incorporates eco-farming, solar renewable energy production, rainwater sustainable growth. If cities are to grow, harvesting, a shading system and a rooftop insulation system. they need to create a climate conducive to attract investment. UFE (Ireland): Urbanflow Engine is a new kind of planning and analysis software to collaboratively design better plans for urbanization with the power of data. It introduces The author is CEO, Oasis500, a leading state-of-the-art geospatial technology to enable collaborative urban planning. early stage and seed investment company in the MENA region, nurturing creative ideas in the technology sector. u NOVEMBER 2014|construction opportunities 71
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