The Nominet Trust 100 celebrates the people and organisations who are using digital technology to change the world for the better. Barrett Nash, Co-founder of 2015 NT100 project SafeMotos, shares his reflections on the NT100 in this Q&A:
1. In your words, please give an overview of SafeMotos.
SafeMotos, an alumni of the NT100 in 2016, uses ultra-cheap Android smartphones to tackle road fatalities in Africa. We work with drivers whose phones have accelerometers, gyroscopes and GPS chips that let us measure things like acceleration, breaking and relationship to speed limit, then have an Uber-style interface to connect customers to safer drivers. With 40,000 trips performed so far in Kigali, Rwanda, we are arguably one of Africa's most exciting startups.
2. What is the main purpose of SafeMotos?
Road fatalities per vehicle in Rwanda are around 500 times more deadly than in the UK, with 80 per cent in Kigali, Rwanda's capital, involving motorcycle taxis. Your friends are in accidents, you see scars, you've felt yourself fly off the back of a bike, you hear a crunch outside and know not to look; eventually SafeMotos' founders decided that instead of looking the other way it was time to take action.
3. What inspired you or the founders to start SafeMotos?
We started SafeMotos the same way all startups are founded, about five bottles of beer in. The idea was that if your body could intuitively feel a bad driver, then sensors should as well and we just iterated from there.
4. How has the NT100 helped your organisation progress?
NT100 was great for SafeMotos. The press that reached out to us because of NT100 was the start of an avalanche of good news stories for SafeMotos that has had us now featured in some of the most prestigious publications in the world. Those first stories are still bearing us fruit.
5. What is the added value of tech when addressing social challenges?
Tech is all about hackers mindset, how do you use coding and sensors in innovative ways to disrupt the expectation of what is possible. The current model of social challenges has emerging markets taking 300 years to get to the same GDP per person as the USA: that needs to be hacked.
6. Who is your ‘Everyday Tech Hero’?
For me, I like Einstein for his theory of combinatorial creativity. You don't build something new, you remix the world around you.
7. What are your plans for the future?
We'd like to be spread everywhere in the developing world where motorcycle taxis are a health hazard. We believe we're only at the very tip of the iceberg for how tech can influence road safety in emerging markets and look forward to thinking of how things like ever cheaper sensors, behavioural nudges, machine learning and AI can let us keep making developing world roads safer and safer.