Articles

San Diego Connects Businesses, Universities for Environmental Hackathon

Participants will probe 500 data sets from the city and hackathon partners in hopes of creating technology to help the city achieve the goal of curbing greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2030.

by Mike Freeman, The San Diego Union-Tribune / May 17, 2016
Hiughway 5 in San Diego flickr/Nathan Rupert

(TNS) -- This winter, San Diego adopted one of the nation’s most ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions in coming decades.

Now the city is teaming up with businesses and universities in hopes that coders can build an app for that.

More than 200 software developers and technology designers have signed up for the three-day San Diego SmartCity Hackathon and Innovation Program, which kicks off Friday at Weaver Conference Center in UC San Diego’s Institute of the Americas.

Participants will probe 500 data sets from the city and hackathon partners in hopes of creating technology to help the city achieve the goal of curbing greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2030.

Data sets being provided includes statistics on energy use, water consumption, traffic, parking, weather patterns, infrastructure and mass transit. Some of the data hasn’t been publicly available before.

“They are sharing real city data for the participants to come up with great ideas,” said Daniel Obodovski, co-author of The Silent Intelligence, a book about the Internet of Things.

The Center for Wireless Communications at UC San Diego, Obodovski and the city are putting together the event.

“It’s not just a hackathon,” said Obodovski, a former Qualcomm product manager. “It is a smart city innovation program that utilizes hackathons and apps challenges to drive innovation to the city’s problems.”

The winner gets a $5,000 prize provided by the San Diego Foundation. In addition, hackathon organizers intend to pluck the best ideas for further research and development and/or mentoring if hackathon participants want to bring their projects to market.

“The top prize is a draw for sure, but we believe the biggest award for the finalists of the hackathon is the potential for one or more of the participants to commercially implement the proposed solution,” said Professor Sujit Dey, head of UCSD’s Center for Wireless Communications.

The City Council adopted a Climate Action Plan in December that requires the city to slash emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

Other targets include boosting the urban tree canopy, increasing recycling and reducing car trips on busy roads and freeways.

“The city is invested in this project because we know that by partnering with the university and business community we can build a competitive advantage for San Diego,” said David Graham, deputy chief operating officer for the city, in a statement. “We see the SmartCity Hackathon and the Innovation Program as creative ways to tap the rich talent on our city and find inventive solutions to combat climate change.”

Business sponsors include Qualcomm, Teradata Labs, OSIsoft, Itron, Splunk, Ingenu, FabLab San Diego, Open San Diego, Cleantech San Diego, CyberHive and others.

An awards ceremony to announce the winner will be held May 25. More information can be found at http://smartcityhackathon.io.

©2016 The San Diego Union-Tribune Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.