IBM’s driving SA innovation with the Road Buddy safety app

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IBM recently announced that its efforts in driving entrepreneurship in South Africa are paying-off. The tech multinational did so by highlighting its role in supporting locally conceptualised app, Road Buddy — a tool that aims to prevent road collisions. By partnering with IBM’s entrepreneurship programme, the app’s creators are now looking to target the global market.

The app (currently iOS-only) was developed with collaboration between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Cape Town based engineers. The Road Buddy project began in 2006 by South African entrepreneur Werner van der Westhuizen. In a recent press release, he explains why he opted to join IBM’s entrepreneurship programme:

“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 the by using this app we all become a little more aware, a little safer then we have succeeded.”

Among tracking their routes, an SOS feature, and a few other features, Road Buddy gives motorists an audio warning when other more vulnerable travellers are in their immediate vicinity on the road (joggers, cyclists, bikers).

“Working with next generation entrepreneurs in this programme we specifically look at how we can 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.

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 not be limited to a single country or geography. Van der Westhuizen is also looking to include other platforms like Windows Phone and Android.

IBM’s Booysen adds that “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.”

Van der Westhuizen has also managed to snatch up the Invention of the Year 2014 award in South Africa. For more information on how the app functions, see the video below: