If you’re looking to solve complex issues in innovative ways, get the brightest minds to work on it together: this is the hackathon recipe, and its results never fail to impress. Aimed at solving major transport-related challenges, the Transport Hackathons series organised by the Youth for Public Transport Foundation (Y4PT) are taking the innovative potential of this well-recognised problem-solving format one step further: beyond their inventive technological merits, the solutions that come out of Transport Hackathons also target profound social boundaries and contribute to inspire more liveable cities.
This is made possible by bringing together a wide range of profiles, from high-level students of multiple fields including sciences, humanities, arts and engineering to established operators, start-up mentors and other experienced professionals. Starting at the local level – where Y4PT promotes the organisation of Local Transport Hackathons around the world – the process also owes its stimulating quality to the cultural diversity of its participants, who come from all over the world.
we can change the way in which our societies are driven
After competing locally, representatives of winning teams from each local hackathon are invited to take part in the final round: the Y4PT Global Transport Hackathon. Taking place from 7-9 June in the context of the UITP Global Public Transport Summit in Stockholm, this “top leading transport innovation contest” has been acknowledged by the European Mobility Week Secretariat as one of the best practices of 2017.
"I expect to raise the awareness, among young people but also among UITP Summit delegates, that we can change the way in which our societies are driven. And the change must start from the bottom", said Alessandra Gorini, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Y4PT.
In order to get a feel for this major event, we had a chat with some of its participants. Keep reading to find out more about their experience and expectations!
Smoothing out traffic flow in Lagos
With a background in risk consulting, local hackathon winner Disun Vera-Cruz wants to ease traffic congestion in Lagos State (Nigeria). “Lagos has some of the worst traffic congestion issues in the world”, he explains.
Together with his team, Disun developed ‘Towntalk’, a data-driven risk-based model capable of predicting and optimising traffic flow. This project involves the use of a streamlined information gathering process to support better planning and deployment of resources by the traffic agencies. This includes a web diary for key event centres to report events ahead of time, a web application allowing the Lagos State Traffic Agency to report live road conditions (e.g. road accidents) and a historical congestion database.
By combining the information gathered through this process with detailed mapping of road conditions and weather forecasts, Disun’s team is now able to predict traffic flow and provide advice on how to optimise it.
Disun credited the transport hackathon environment for having contributed to the success of his project: “we benefited from discussing our methodology and approach within a stimulating environment and received useful feedback from the judges. This spurred us to think more broadly and to develop a traffic prediction and town-planning solution that can be applied beyond Lagos alone”, he explained.
At the Global Transport Hackathon, Disun is “expecting to meet global champions in public transport and city planning with the objective of taking (his) solution global”.
Wings2Wheels, the social app for taxi-pooling
Interested in machine learning and problem-solving dynamics, the Manchester-based engineer Lucia Moreno Gonzalez has developed an unusual and innovative solution to tackle traffic congestion around airports. The Manchester Ideathon that she took part in was co-organised by the IMOVE project
Together with a team of other local hackathon participants with backgrounds in UX-design, finance and programming, Lucia identified that an important factor indirectly causing this congestion tends to be the anxiety of foreign flight passengers when it comes to using shared modes of transport to reach their destination point.
As a solution, her team created “Wings2Wheels”, a web app that connects people travelling from an airport to their destination point. By providing “filtering options for people to choose who they will be travelling with”, this app “adds a social factor to taxi-pooling”, explains Lucia. Additionally, this solution also has the advantage of considerably reducing travel costs.
Lucia looks forward to learning more about the “different experiences and perspectives people have around the world and the innovative solutions they come up with concerning the transport sector” during the Global Transport Hackathon.
We look forward to meeting her there!
More information on the Y4PT Global Transport Hackathon is available here.
See you in Stockholm on 9 June at the UITP Global Public Transport Summit to find out the winners!
Want to know more about the digital trends in the mobility sector? Check out UITP’s new Mobility as a Service (MaaS) report and Policy Brief!