The Chicago Connectory hosted the second edition of a mobility hackathon on Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20. Promoted by Bosch and KPMG (an audit, tax and advisory firm), students from various universities developed business models and pitches which were presented to local judges.
The hackathon challenge was to change the way Chicago moves by creating a solution that reduces pollution, reduces congestion, increases mobility for low income neighborhoods and optimizes the flow of multi-modal travel options. During the 26-hour hackathon, approximately 40 students broke into 11 groups and used their skills to develop an idea for the challenge. The groups were coached by representatives from Bosch and KPMG.
On Saturday, the 11 groups had five minutes each to present their pitches to the judges. The judge panel included:
- Kevin O’Malley, Leader in Transportation and Mobility at Chicago Department of Transportation
- Bob Dean, CEO at the Center for Neighborhood Technology
- George Letavish, Manager of Pilot Program Development at City Tech Collaborative
- Plamen Petrov, Director of Cognitive Technology at KPMG;
- Judi Spaletto, Director of Analytics and Technology Innovation at KPMG
- Doug Pancoast, Head of Research and Development for Urban Mobility at Bosch
In the end, there were three winners: Best overall idea, best pitch and best execution.
– The Roiti team won $1,000 for each team member and received a three-month Connectory membership for their pitch, “Feel Your City”. It consisted of implementing sensors in train and Divvy bikes to collect data like GPS information, movement and CO2. This data can be used to improve things like pollution levels and road conditions in the future.
– AMBER’s pitch focused on free rides for underprivileged patients in low income neighborhoods to doctors and hospitals when necessary. These rides would be insured or paid as administrative cost by doctors.
– The Wildcats team proposed “2TheRescue”, an app that notifies weather and climate disasters. They integrated existing tools, such as Facebook crisis response and FEMA alerts to help with rescue, evacuation and crisis control.
The pitches from the remaining teams included several ideas such as, software for public transportation to improve control of people and quality, apps specific to the elderly population, alternative transportation to improve the congestion in rush time, sensors to collect data from noise and air pollution and much more.
“As a judge, I thought they were really good presentations with interesting ideas and diverse ways of presenting. But we can see that all teams put a lot of work and effort on their projects and their pitches,” said Judi Spaletto.
The students from the Wildcats team said that until the middle of the night, they had no idea what to do.
“We started building a prototype at 4 a.m., and we decided that it didn’t make any sense,” said Suraj Gholap, computer science graduation student at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). “Without ideas, we started to speak with Beth Bond, head of city development at Bosch, who was supporting all groups, and she actually pitched us our idea and it was great. Then we knew after talking to her that we can do it.”
The “Jammove” team participants were also students from UIC, but from Italy! Gabriele Aldeghi said, “The major problem that we had is that we were talking about mobility in a city that is not ours, so we did a lot of research just to find what we can address as a problem.”
“It was my first hackathon, but I didn’t have any problem because my team was great,” said Piervincenzo Ventrella, computer engineering student at UIC, and also a participant from the Jammove team. “Because we are from different backgrounds (biomedical engineering, computer engineering and more) we found different ideas, and had different perspectives on problems. In the end we were able to resolve all of them.”
Beth Bond thought the hackathon was a success!
“Our team Hermes, KPMG and all judges were thrilled to see so many students from universities across Chicago working to address local urban mobility issues, all through the night,” said Beth Bond. “Our top winners developed solutions that we believe have the potential to create equity, access and data-driven insights to environmental sustainability, and we look forward to providing resources for their continued development!”