On Thursday 5th and Friday 6th April 2018, we organized the Smart IoT Hackathon in collaboration with Bruxelles Formation and the Centre d’Informatique de la Région Bruxelloise (CIRB). The aim was to offer 20 student developers (10 front-end and 10 back-end) from Bruxelles Formation the opportunity to experience something new while making Brussels a smarter city. We added 6 more business profiles to the mix to bind the team together & handle the presentations. The technologies involved were related to the NextTech Plan: Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data.
A hackathon is an event where the participants develop a solution to a given problem in a brief period of time and pitch it at the end. It’s a terrific way to improve your project management skills while broadening your network since you often team up with strangers. That’s partly why we organized this event: we wanted to give those students a taste of project management, so they could add an extra line to their CV’s!
However, we also wanted to make Brussels a smarter city! Smart cities involve modern technologies in their operating processes as tools to make the inhabitants’ lives more pleasant. The idea is to work on having more sustainable economic and social ways of developing as a city. The technologies involved come in many forms: open data & data visualization, IoT, AI & chatbots, etc. For the purposes of this Hackathon, we limited the themes to 3:
- IoT to measure pollution levels and reduce them
- IoT to verify in real-time the availability of the handicap parking spots
- Big Data to optimize the deliveries of local food
Five teams were defined, each of them composed of two back-end developers from Bruxelles Formation, two front-end developers from Cepegra and one to two business profiles from either Solvay or Ichec. They didn’t know each other before the event and therefore had to compose with everyone’s personality, skills and vision.
During the event, the participants were supported by trainers of Bruxelles Formation and Cepegra, as well by an Azure IoT trainer from the MIC Brussels for the technical part. We also helped the business profiles refine their presentations by challenging them and making them be aware of the possible flaws in their business plan. This way, they could be fully prepared for their pitch and anticipate the jury’s questions.
After about 15 hours of hard work & stress, it was time for the teams to present what they had accomplished. Each of them had 10 minutes to pitch the business model, explain the technical challenges they had and how they fixed them and do a short demo of their solution. A jury, composed of Ioana Voicu from NextTech.brussels, Céline Vanderborght from the CIRB, Luc Jacobs from IoT Factory and Nicolas Denuit from MAKEIT, assessed the different projects though a 5-minute Q&A session after the presentation. For most of the participants, it was the first time they were pitching!
The jury elected the project Handipark as the great winner of the Smart IoT Hackathon. Handipark helps people with reduced mobility find a parking spot based on open data and IoT. The application offers a real-time view of the parking spots in Brussels as well as which day is the best depending on the activity you have planned. This technical prowess, coupled with a solid business plan (involving municipalities and local businesses to improve the financial sustainability of the project), a low-price leasing (5€/month) and a dynamic story telling convinced the jury that it was the project with the most potential.
The team won Ozone Argon gaming mice and a VR session at Terragame Center.
To us, the fact that the participants managed to pull out a working solution despite a very short timing, newly known technologies, the inevitable technical issues and the collaboration with new people is truly respectable. The experience they got out of this hackathon is priceless and this, in the end, makes everyone a winner!
Read more about this event:
- L’Avenir’s article