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Silicon Valley's 'Hack My Ride' Challenge Seeks Next-Gen Transit Tools

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority hosts the three-month challenge to hunt for new transit tech beyond the all-too popular trip planners.

by / July 17, 2015
Hack My Ride 2.0 Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

Touting apps, cash and iBeacons, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is holding its second annual Hack My Ride hackathon to re-envision the transit experience for cities across the Silicon Valley.
The three-month challenge — sponsored by the Knight Foundation, Microsoft and Code for San Jose — began at San Jose, Calif.’s  Tech Museum of Innovation during a National Day of Civic Hacking hackathon on June 6 and will continue until Sept. 17, when app submissions will be judged for $30,000 in prizes.

Deviating from the traditional 24-hour hackathon, the competition has been extended to three months for richer results, said VTA Administrator of Digital Communications Cody Kraatz, who added that the VTA is hunting for new transit tech beyond the all-too popular trip planners.

“Think beacons, wearables, mashing up VTA data with other nontransit data, games, virtual reality, brilliant data visualizations and astounding first-ever user experiences,” Kraatz wrote in a VTA blog.

Added emphasis, Kraatz said, is placed on the use of Bluetooth iBeacon technology, which is scheduled to be attached to various parts of the VTA’s transit infrastructure such as bus, light rail and para-transit services. Possible applications could touch emergency communications, loyalty programs, way finding for the visually disabled — as was done at San Francisco International Airport — and there is a range of possibilities for commercial uses like area-specific advertising for commuters.

Hack My Ride participants are afforded first use of the new sensors with two iBeacon question-and-answer sessions scheduled for July 22 and Aug. 6. Winners will be announced late October and the contest is open to all — residents and nonresidents of Silicon Valley.

Further details are available at the Hack My Ride website.