The World Bank, AppCircus and Google Developer Group Cairo (GDG Cairo) have joined forces to launch the Cairo Transport AppChallenge, an online competition for mobile applications that can improve transportation in the Egyptian capital.

As you may know, traffic congestion a serious problem in the Cairo metropolitan area, and has a negative effect on the health, quality of life and productivity of its 17 million inhabitants. This led the country’s new President Mohamed Morsi to make transportation issues one of the five main national priorities he aims to address.

According to AppCircus’ CEO, Carles Ferreiro, apps can also leverage open information to bring answers to this problem:

cairo appchallenge Cairo Transport AppChallenge hopes to find the solution to one of Egypts top plagues“The Cairo Transport AppChallenge provides an excellent example of how open information networks can provide the answers to real challenges [and] improve one of the most important aspects of [Cairo's residents'] daily lives—transportation,” he says.

While this AppChallenge focuses on a specific vertical, it’s important to note that the scope of apps that are eligible is pretty broad. As a matter of fact, organizers are hoping to see attempts to deal with issues as diverse as the “lack of road-safety awareness, lack of information about private and public transport in Cairo, the need to improve the quality of public transport by integrating new technologies, finding ways to improve security and minimize harassment of women traveling on public transport, improving mobility for people with physical challenges and finding ways to control traffic infractions and identify dangerous driving.”

To participate, developers need to sign up via AppCircus’ first Hack@home platform, which will let them collaborate on apps over the next few weeks. While they can work remotely, they will still get help from mentors - the initiative is sponsored by Google, Orange and Vodafone, and supported by several Egyptian institutions.

Once ready, the top 10 apps will be chosen by an online poll and a jury of mobile tech specialists, with the winners announced at an event to be held in Cairo on December 15. The winning app will then receive a cash prize, and the opportunity to present at AppCircus’ upcoming Mobile Premier Awards, which will take place in Barcelona in 2013 (see our post about 2012 edition).

Image credit: KHALED DESOUKI / AFP / Getty Images