Egypt's Social Media Takes On New Foe: Cairo's Traffic

After aiding in the dissolution of Egypt's authoritarian regime, social media is being enlisted to tackle a more formidable obstacle: easing its capital city's traffic, reports Noel King.
May 22, 2012, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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As King observes, "For those who haven't been to Cairo, traffic may seem like a trifle. But in a sprawling megalopolis with a population approaching 20 million, residents schedule everything from workdays to weddings around traffic jams that stretch for miles and ensnare drivers for hours at a time."

It should be no surprise then that Bey2ollak, "a company whose free crowdsourcing app allows Egyptians to report on and avoid traffic," has beaten out 4,000 other entrants to win a recent competition sponsored by Google to find Egypt's most promising startup business.

"Bey2ollak is based on a very simple insight: that there is always someone on the street who knows how horrible [traffic] is or how well it is flowing," says co-founder Gamal el din Sadek. "It's always been one-to-one communication, but the information is relevant to everyone. We created a community that is one-to-many."

"The app uses casual, funny language that appeals to young users who choose from a list of options like 'sweet,' to indicate traffic is light or 'no hope,' which means stay off the roads at all costs. And Bey2ollak has found another niche in post-revolution Egypt, where protests and marches are frequent.: Users can alert travelers-and be alerted-to 'khattar' or 'danger' if protesters and security forces are clashing in the streets."

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Published on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 in Good
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