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By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net WHILE COVERI NG the Microsoft Imagine Cup annual software design competition, I got to m eet several teams of college students from different top local universities. Th eir objective: design a software application that would help promote a sustaina ble environment. One idea from Team Prairie Watch of the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde invo lved tagging endangered animals with a little webcam and streaming the video that this little gadget captures on the web. They had a working prototype that looked promising. Another idea developed by Team Tala was a computer game that would teach kids about the environment. Team Tala was a mixed team of stu dents from the University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Phi lippines and the Philippine Christian University. Here's my video interview with Team Prairie Watch. And here's the video interview with Team Tala. What caught my attention (but unfortunately it didn't win) was a software appli cation developed by Team IMI 2.0 from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. They devel oped a software application that applied the "crowd sourcing" idea to calamity and disaster reporting. As explained to me by the students and their teacher, the software application uses Microsoft Virtual Earth as the user interface to allow people to report calamities a nd disasters. They could either submit written reports via text or chat, or upl oad video clips. Designed with the government in mind, the application uses a v irtual map to pinpoint areas of disaster and calamaties. If you click on an ico n, you will be able to get more information. This application can best serve agencies like the National Disaster Coordinatin g Council. This will allow citizens to submit pertinent information (which shou ld go through verification) and contribute to information gathered by the gover nment. In calamity and disaster reporting, verified information is crucial. As their teacher explained, it is like the "911 for calamities and disaster on the Web." The application hopes to bridge the gap of information from those who wa nt to help and from those needing help during a disaster. Another interesting software application, which I found intriguing, was called "Gigo," as in "garbage in, garbage out." It was developed by the youngest final ists from Team Tibecom of Ateneo. They were freshmen and they won second place. First place went to another team from Ateneo, dubbed Team Pi/4, who developed a system that hopes to help consumers make environmentally-friendly decisions w hen buying products. Gigo works like "Google for trash." A widget or gadget is downloaded to a person's desktop, so that they can conduct searches on common p roducts and find out how these could be recycled. It also empowers people by te aching them how to deal with trash and non-biodegradable products, such as styr ofoam. Here's the video interview with Team Tibecom. And here's the video interview with Team Pi/4. One thing that I observed after the winners were declared was that students who were able to explain their projects clearly came out on top. So it is also imp ortant that ideas are presented clearly. This was the lesson I learned earlier in a bootcamphosted by Morph Labs.

1st Philippine Yahoo! Hack Day

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CHECK out this video INQUIRER.net executive editor Leo Magno and reporter Alex Villafania took of Yahoo! Hack Day for iVDO, our online video channel in partnership with -- guess who? -- Yahoo! And read Alex's article for more details.

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