Google Picks Two Kazakh Startups for Advancing Sustainable Development Goals

ASTANA – Google has selected two startup projects from Kazakhstan to participate in accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Kazakh students entered the list of the global 100 teams on April 5, reported the Google Developers website. 

Respire startup members. Photo credit: Google Developer Groups (GDG) Cloud Almaty.

The competition was held following the Google Solution Challenge, an annual initiative that encourages the use of technologies to solve problems related to the United Nations (UN) 17 SDGs. It was organized by Google Developer Groups (GDG) Cloud Almaty, an independent group of software developers and startup community supported by Google. 

In an interview with The Astana Times, GDG Almaty Community Manager Askar Aituov said the teams “demonstrated great technical and research capabilities.” 

“The judging was strict with competition among the strongest teams all over the world, including Europe, Japan, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and the United States,” he noted. 

Four students from the Kazakh-British Technical University (KBTU) – Altair Kabdrakhmanov, Aknur Kapparova, Azat Amen, and Dina Kaziyeva – came up with an idea to tackle the challenges faced by people with disabilities at bus stops, including indifference, prolonged wait times, and stress.

WaitForMe project developers. Photo credit: Google Developer Groups (GDG) Cloud Almaty.

The mission of their WaitForMe startup is to make public transportation more accessible, particularly for individuals with visual impairments. 

“After authorization, people with disabilities select the bus that suits them best. By pressing the ‘notify’ button, bus drivers receive both voice and text notifications about the person awaiting them, along with their location. As the bus approaches, both the driver and a passenger receive voice and text notifications,” explained Kabdrakhmanov.

“When the passenger boards the bus and presses the ‘I am on a bus’ button, their location disappears from the map for other bus drivers,” he added. 

The second project was presented by the Nazarbayev University (NU) students Aidana Kalimbekova, Rimma Kubanova, Yerassol Baigali, and Rakhat Khamitov.

The Respire startup leverages the power of the community to create a support system against smoking addiction. 

“We all know that smoking addiction has devastating consequences on health, leading to diseases, including cancer, heart problems, and respiratory disorders. It also places a significant strain on finances and impacts the environment through cigarette litter and pollution,” said Kubanova.

The addiction, she emphasized, is not just a personal struggle or the problem of Kazakh citizens but a global public health concern.

The mobile application allows users to track smoking habits, participate in challenges with friends or create their own, and receive personalized support from artificial intelligence (AI). It analyzes user data and delivers recommendations to help individuals overcome smoking triggers and cravings.

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