Road Buddy app aims to make SA roads safer

Pictures R to L: Clayton Booysen(IBM) Werner van der Westhuizen( Road Buddy Inventor) Tiyani Rikhotso( Chief Director of Communications, Ministry of Transport), DG Mawethu Vilana (Director General of the Department of Transport) and Gary Ronald (Independent Road Safety Expert)

Pictures R to L: Clayton Booysen(IBM) Werner van der Westhuizen( Road Buddy Inventor) Tiyani Rikhotso( Chief Director of Communications, Ministry of Transport), DG Mawethu Vilana (Director General of the Department of Transport) and Gary Ronald (Independent Road Safety Expert)
Pictures R to L: Clayton Booysen (IBM) Werner van der Westhuizen (Road Buddy Inventor) Tiyani Rikhotso (Chief Director of Communications, Ministry of Transport), DG Mawethu Vilana (Director General of the Department of Transport) and Gary Ronald (Independent Road Safety Expert)

Millions of apps are created on a month-to-month basis; however, not many of those apps are aimed at making South African and international roads safer.

The Road Buddy app essentially works by transmitting warning signals from vulnerable road users such as joggers, cyclists, pedestrians and so on in order to alert motorists who are driving trucks, cars, emergency vehicles or buses – within the same vicinity – of their presence.

Road Buddy was conceptualised in 2006, by local entrepreneur Werner van der Westhuizen, of EMEWS Vehicle Warning Systems. The company’s launch iteration of Road Buddy addresses the principle of prevention. “Imagine if there was a way that you could be warned that someone riding a bicycle was approaching your car before you could see them, or that an ambulance was approaching at top speed with a critical patient. This is what Road Buddy does,” says van der Westhuizen.

The unique aspect of the Road Buddy app is that it’s designed to facilitate a global send and receive warning system to road users anywhere in the world. According to van der Westhuizen: “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.”

Clayton Booysen, Ecosystem Development Manager at IBM South Africa said, “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. 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.”

“The Road Buddy system is the first invention to be powered by IBM’s SoftLayer Cloud model in our market and programme. The model gives enterprise quality cloud infrastructure as a service. The model has all the IT bells and whistles including optimisation, efficiency, storage and security at a scalable price point that helps them grow,” Booysen said.

“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.” says van der Westhuizen.

In Africa, the IBM Global Entrepreneurial Initiative has been gaining significant momentum. The program has engaged over 50 partners in just three years. Since small businesses are major contributors to the strength of the South African economy, IBM is deeply committed to this programme in South Africa.

Globally road traffic accidents take the lives of nearly 1.24 million people every year, and injure 20 – 50 million people, making them one of the top three leading causes of death globally.

Statistics in South Africa show that 10 845 road accidents are fatal and result in R307 billion or 7.8% estimated cost to the economy per annum. Without action, road traffic accidents are predicted to result in the deaths of around 1.9 million people annually by 2020. The Automobile Association (AA) in South Africa says at least 40% of all fatalities and injuries are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists making them the most vulnerable road users.

Road Buddy is available on Apple and Android devices.

Darryl Linington