Students developed Covid-19 symptoms chatbots for 4IR hackathon challenge

12th April 2021 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

Seven students in three teams developed chatbots - interactive programmes to aide customer enquiries - during a hackathon hosted by Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) education facility Forge Academy in Fourways, Gauteng.

The software programmes had to serve as a digital solution to guide consumers through a Covid-19 symptom diagnosis process.

The seven students are enrolled at the Forge Academy 4IR laboratory and are working towards their telecommunications certificates. The hackathon was part in a tri-continental hackathon involving South Africa, Finland and the US and was organised by Finnish education specialist company EduExcellence.

“The most advanced team created a virtual chatbot for a theoretical construction company that asked questions about customer or employee needs and then forwarded the information to the company, enabling it to respond quickly to its customers. This chatbot will complement another team’s work that built an online presence and digital marketing campaign for the same company,” says Forge Academy senior lecturer Asko Mononen.

He coached the three teams at Forge Academy before they began with the software programming challenge.

The technological solutions developed by the teams will be put forward as viable business solutions as part of a Forge Academy practical module. Forge Academy uses theoretical, laboratory and on-the-job training to prepare students to participate in 4IR and the global digital economy.

The hackathon provided an opportunity for South African information and communication technology (ICT) students to represent their country and continent among leading technology nations and to grow their ICT skills.

“Our students gained practical experience on how to solve consumer and business problems using digital solutions, specifically how to build customer-driven chatbots.

We look forward to hosting future continental hackathons because it gives students a chance to develop their ICT skills in a fun and exciting environment,” says Forge Academy CEO Arthur Wade Anderson.