MANILA - Dubbed as the solution with "the most potential to improve life on Earth or in the universe" in 2018, a Filipino-made mobile app concept bested nearly 1,400 global entries to win one of 6 top spots at the annual hackathon challenge of the US space agency NASA.
"ISDApp", a community-based app that would provide weather and sea conditions in real-time to fisherfolk with analog cellphones, won the "Galactic Impact" category in the NASA Space Apps 2018.
This is the first time a team from the Philippines both landed the shortlist of finalists and won in the challenge since it began in 2012.
The entries came from more than 2,700 teams of students and young professionals in 75 countries who underwent a weekend-long hackathon in October 2018 to propose solutions or apps for global problems by adapting open-source data from NASA.
Five other winners from around the world were picked for each of the remaining categories, namely Best Use of Data; Best Use of Hardware; Best Mission Concept; Most Inspirational; and Best Use of Science.
iNON (for "It's Now or Never"), the team that developed the app, is made up of creatives Revbrain Martin and Jeddah Legaspi from the ABS-CBN Creative Communications Management and IT professionals JC Torreda, Matthew Concubierta, and Migs De Guzman.
"ISDApp represented the country with a simple solution but with a deep purpose, which we believe helped it swim to success," the team said in a statement reacting to the results, which were posted online Saturday in Manila.
"This is proof that even technology needs a heart," they said.
The team emerged as one of two finalists at the Manila leg of the hackathon which was also hosted by the US Embassy.
iNON said they were overwhelmed with the win since it was their first time joining a hackathon.
The other Filipino entries to the global challenge in 2018 were a disaster preparedness app, a wildfire monitoring and mitigation program, and a virtual reality experience of the planet Mars.
Describing ISDApp to ABS-CBN News last year, Martin said it helps address a very Filipino problem, but would be relevant to other countries with coastal towns.
"Many of our fisher folk risk their lives when going out to sea since they have no first-hand information if it is okay to fish. With this, they can be alerted with the state of the weather so they could avoid sailing out," he said.
The results of the 2018 SpaceApps challenge were expected to be announced in January but was delayed due to the US government shutdown.
The winning teams will be invited to visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Meanwhile, the next challenge for ISDApp, iNON said, is catching investors who would help the app become a reality for millions of fishermen both in the Philippines and abroad.