A super frustrated computer science student at Stellenbosch University developed an open source software project tracking the latest loadshedding timetables and tweets from Eskom so that it can be added directly into your calendar.
Boyd Kane says he wanted the very latest loadshedding schedules to show “right there where I can see it – on my electronic calendar".
“It's not nice working the whole day and then getting home at eight, ready to start dinner, and then the lights go out," he says. So out of pure frustration he decided to put his skills to work in developing a project that could provide him with the very latest information on Eskom's loadshedding timetable.
Anyone can now put the loadshedding schedule directly into their electronic calendar by clicking on this open source link.
He started working on the technical details in July 2022, and then had to go through the tedious process of cleaning up the raw data. For those areas receiving their electricity directly from Eskom, it was easy. But in other instances he had to find the timetables from the municipalities. All these timetables were in different formats, so it took some time to figure out how to clean the raw data into a useable format. The project also scrapes off information from Eskom's official Twitter account, to make provision for those sudden surprises when the country moves from stage one to stage six loadshedding, or anything in between.
“I first tested the project on Cape Town, because I lived there and I had friends who could confirm whether the alerts from the project corresponded with their reality," he explains.
Now there are over 500 municipal areas supported by the project – from Stellenbosch to Matatiele in the Eastern Cape.
The project is also open source, which means that other developers can jump in and make suggestions on how to improve it, or use the loadshedding schedules for their own ideas.
For now, a reliable way of publishing the calendars is more important to him than having a good-looking user-interface or website. He is also not interested in turning this into a business venture: “I learned to code from open source and free software on the internet and besides, the internet itself would not have existed if it wasn't for free software. So now it is my turn to give back".
Boyd is specifically interested in data science and probability theory and plans to continue with his MSc in Computer Science next year.