With more than 1.2 million people dying each year on the world’s roads, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Status on Road Safety 2015 Report, it’s little wonder that a group of students at NYU Abu Dhabi decided to focus on road safety for their “Best m-government Service Award” submission, called RoadWatch, which took top honors today at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
“It’s such a privilege for NYUAD to have students who bring the most complex analytic powers and technical talent to creating a safer environment for the UAE, and for humanity – a team that represents an inspiring model of how students from countries as diverse as Brazil, China, New Zealand, the UAE, and Vietnam can bond together in phenomenal effort and significant accomplishment,” said NYUAD Vice Chancellor Al Bloom.
Designed to promote safe driving, the RoadWatch application displays the current state of the roads and related statistics and warns drivers when exceeding the speed limit or when an emergency services vehicle is approaching. It also notifies drivers of any road accidents and heavy fog in order to adjust routes and reduce speed as necessary.
Coupled with a smartwatch that monitors driver heartrate and hand movement, RoadWatch is able to raise alarm to counteract driver drowsiness. The app is built around the idea of turning driving into a game in which a points system encourages and motivates drivers to following road regulations and drive more carefully. Driving statistics are anonymously fed back to the Ministry of Interior to assist in planning roads infrastructure by helping identify problematic locations where drivers brake abruptly, swerve sharply, or get stuck in traffic jams.
NYUAD Class of 2018 student and RoadWatch app team member Maitha Salem Al Memari said: “It is an honour to be able to work on a project for the benefit of both government and the people of the UAE, and to work with a diverse team of students with a common interest of giving back to the UAE community. I am so proud to have participated in this competition and to have successfully shared our idea at the World Government Summit.”
NYUAD Class of 2017 student and team member Quan Ho Vuong commented: "It was an incredibly inspiring and empowering process to build our imagination into reality with our best friends, in the supportive environment of the Engineering Design Studio and in intimate collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Interior.”
In addition to Al Memari and Vuong, the RoadWatch app team consisted of NYUAD students Kai-Erik Marechal Jensen (Class of 2017), Kenny Song (Class of 2017 at NYU Shanghai), and Lingliang Zhang (Class of 2016). The team presented their app at the third annual World Government Summit and were awarded AED 1 million for placing first in the university competition, which saw 94 entries from 21 universities.
Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the UAE Government launched the third cycle of the Best m-Government Service Award. The Award aims to motivate government entities to provide innovative solutions in the field of smartphone applications, mobile web SMS and smart wearable technology. A special award was also developed for students enrolled in universities in the UAE to stimulate innovations and creativity in addition to engage in providing public service solutions.