Data drives winning project of Ghent hackathon

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As residents of Ghent know, finding parking space in the Belgian city is a very difficult task. Reducing traffic congestion and limiting private vehicle usage were key themes of the Ghent Transport Hackathon, organised by Y4PT and the Flanders Institute for Mobility.

The winning idea from Team LoQutus used open source data on public parking lots in Ghent to create a model that predicts the availability of parking. Representing the team at the Y4PT Global Transport Hackathon in Montréal is Thomas Michem, who hopes the project will dissuade people from using their cars and encourage public transport.

Tell us about your winning project:

The project is about predictive analytics for public parking spaces. For underground parking spaces in Ghent, there is real-time open data to see available spaces. I tracked the open data for a year, and, based on that, created an analytical model that can be used to monitor available spaces. This information can help people decide whether or not to use a car to go to the city centre. And most often, the right answer is to use public transport.

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

People often have good ideas, but the problem is how to bring them into practice. Hackathons are great in lowering the barriers for people to start working on their ideas. It’s a great environment to test new technologies, for team building, sharing ideas and getting inspired.

‘Tram’ was one of our daughter’s first words!

What role does public transport play in your own life?

It’s essential! My girlfriend, daughter and I live in Ghent, which is a great city, but mobility is definitely a challenge. ‘Tram’ was one of our daughter’s first words! We live in a street with a tram stop at the end, and use it all the time. We also use Cambio, a car-sharing solution, instead of a second car. For the last three years I’ve also been a consultant for the transport company De Lijn, so transport has been a huge part of my work as well.

What is still lacking is a true multimodal approach.

What do you think the future of public transport looks like?

While there are more and more mobility solutions appearing, what is still lacking is a true multimodal approach. For example, taking a train, then a bus to the nearest town, and then hopping on a bike for the last mile after that. There needs to be more coordination, allowing people to easily enjoy all kinds of public transport.

The Y4PT Global Transport Hackathon takes place in Montréal, alongside the UITP 2017 Global Public Transport Summit. Innovation is the central theme of the Summit, with cutting-edge exhibitions, presentations and world premieres.

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

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