Solving Colombia’s public transport problems, one hack at a time

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Two hackathon events, simultaneously held in Medellín and Bogotá, sought to solve some of Colombia’s most pressing public transport issues, including traffic congestion, inaccurate schedules, and damage to roads.

The events, organised by Y4PT saw a total of 12 teams competing for the first prize: flights to Montréal and a chance to compete in the first-ever Global Transport Hackathon. The Colombia hackathons were among the final events in a series of regional hackathons that have taken place all over the world.

Team UD34 won the Medellín hackathon, with their project ‘E-Bus’, that provides integrated transport information allowing for more efficient operation of bus fleets in the city. In Bogotá, Team Tripper took out first prize for their platform that creates an inventory of potholes and other road problems.

Ahead of the global showdown in Montreal next week, we sat down with UD34 captain Fernando Giraldo Montoya, to discuss transport problems in Medellín and his team’s innovative solution.

Tell us about your winning project:

Our project solves a problem that many cities in emerging countries face: how to organise public transport, and how to provide accurate route and schedule information. We developed a platform that offers real-time fleet management, control and monitoring, and provides information for transport operators and authorities, allowing them to better organise public transport in the city.

How does the hackathon environment contribute to coming up with fresh ideas?

In a hackathon you meet new people with awesome ideas, and have the possibility to interact with experts in many fields. The questions raised by team members resulted in ideas that gradually helped us develop a more mature idea, and to understand the mobility problems of our city.

We provide a solution that delivers data to public transport operators to allow them to plan routes and schedules.

How does your idea respond to specific public transport challenges that Medellín faces?

Our city has a big problem related to the aging fleet of buses, and a lack of technology needed for travel planning. We provide a solution that delivers data to public transport operators to allow them to plan routes and schedules.

If you could change one thing about public transport Medellín, what would it be?

In our city we have two types of public transport: the metro, which is well organised, and then the other systems – such as cable, tram, bus – which are disorganised and difficult to use. When using these other kinds of public transport it is hard to know schedules and journey times, and there are additional security risks, due to the lack of planning of the routes. We hope our project will contribute to the organisation of mobility in Medellín, and will allow passengers to plan their routes. Finally, we hope it will end up encouraging a greater use of public transport.


The Medellín hackathon was hosted by the Municipal Mayor of Medellín’s Office; the Bogotá event was hosted by Colombia’s Ministry of Transport

The Y4PT Global Transport Hackathon takes place in Montréal, alongside the UITP 2017 Global Public Transport Summit.

Y4PT’s hackathons are part of InnovHub. Follow the bulb to discover the future of public transport.

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