MobiDataLab Hackathon close-up: hard work pays off!
One week after the end of the MobiDataLab Hackathon in Paris, a reward for the great work of all parties involved seems like the least POLIS can do!
The hackathon gathered 21 mobility enthusiasts and data experts from 19 countries, who teamed up in 11 teams to propose solutions to 4 challenges explained by mobility department representatives of 4 cities in Europe: Eindhoven (NL), Leuven (BE), Milan (IT) and Paris (FR).
After a warm welcome in the friendly co-working space Makesense in Paris’ 11th district, participants were introduced to the MobiDataLab project purpose and the objectives of the Hackathon. The event process was detailed:
- Cities presented their local context and the main traffic struggles they are facing, for which they are expecting innovative solution proposals from the hackathon participants;
- The MobiDataLab tools including multiple data sets and data exploitation services were shown;
- The rules for engagement of participants were clarified, stating when and where to submit proposals and under what form, how to present them to the jury, and what finalization level is expected;
- The prices were reminded as well as the evaluation criteria and the jury members.
During 5 hours on a sunny Friday afternoon in Paris and 6 hours on an early Saturday morning, participants researched the data available and developed tools to exploit it to:
- Support taxi-customer connections at the main Eindhoven train station soon renovated
- Recommend appropriate locations for multimodal transport hubs in Leuven
- Anticipate congestion and ease transport around large events in Milan
- Pave the way for a new walking strategy in Paris
At first, all participants shied away from interaction and collaboration, intimidated by the amount of data sets to dig into, and the complexity of the challenges in the cities. But after a few hours of familiarizing myself with the challenges and the different tools available, they started exchanging and discussing their priorities, looking for partners in elaborating solution narratives.
Some teams had arrived more prepared and advanced than others of course, already operating some data exploitation services for example, or acquainted with the project from the MobiDataLab Datathon in Berlin back in May 2023.
Some participants went their way unilaterally, relying on their creative thinking abilities, past experiences in problem-solving, and understanding of local authorities’ challenges.
Through interaction with cities’ representatives, participants connected to local governance issues, and dived into tricky situations sometimes in their hometown, such as the MobilityDataMobilizers team from Leuven.
Constant exchange with the MobiDataLab partners helped them easily retrieve key data and use it in the design and testing of their developments.
A lot of support was provided by all stakeholders involved in the MobiDataLab Hackathon, from the data and urban mobility experts of the jury to the cities’ administration workers, without forgetting the talented MobiDataLab tools developing partners of course.
In the end, 11 proposals for a solution pitch were submitted on Saturday afternoon, after 24h hours of intense work – including a sleepless night for some…
Participants presented their results in three minutes pitches, orchestrated by an iron timekeeper from the MobiDataLab partners. They all had a chance to extend their explanations through a few minutes of questions and answers at the end of their presentations – which they benefitted from, thanks to the great attention and precise questions from the jury members.
Although the timeslot allocated was extremely short and happened after only 24 hours of work, the results were surprisingly well constructed and relevant to the challenges exposed. From real-time localisation tools to infrastructure and traffic monitoring systems, the diversity of data exploited and solution focuses led to many key inputs to take home for the cities involved.
Most presentations pinpointed the main objective of their solution, described the product developed with illustrations and live demos and mentioned the data sets used and the required further developments. Both online and onsite participants managed to share their results and had their moments of excitement, focus, and release in those three short minutes they were allocated.
After a short but busy deliberation with all 10 jury members, all hackathon participants reconvened for the long-awaited award ceremony.
The third prize of 1000€ was awarded to the Opti-driver solution, which optimizes taxi-customer connections in Eindhoven (NL) with live localisation of taxi drivers and passengers provided with directions and information on public transport alternatives or failures.
The solution developer, a French student, confessed he participated in a hackathon for the first time and felt encouraged to push his data analytics work further by the success of his work in the MobiDataLab event.
The second prize of 2000€ was given to the Global Fusion Squad, a very strong team that had won the MobiDataLab Datathon in May in Berlin. Their solution relies on available urban data such as pedestrian density, public toilet location, hospital positions, and other traffic data. Combining various data sets, it identifies pedestrianization opportunities, and congestion mitigation options, but also assesses data quality and enables automated data processing for specific formats. Their rich contribution provided key insights for the city of Paris's current work on local walkability improvement.
The first prize of the MobiDataLab Hackathon, an amount of 5,000 €, was taken by the insightful team Artificient Mobility Intelligence, also participating in a hackathon for the first time. Their solution exploited various data from the city of Leuven, from socio-economic information to traffic flows and infrastructure localisation, to conclude the best potential multimodal hubs’ localisations. Relying on an existing tool they had already worked on previously, their solution showed very strong grounds and they could present it quite confidently.
After an emotional conclusion of the event, with music and many thankful statements towards all participants and involved stakeholders, a very casual networking drink took place at the event venue, with local and healthy drinks to sustain this hard-working crew, relax and celebrate a very successful collaborative milestone for the project! As well as, of course, to start introducing the next milestone where all these great folks are expected and wished for too… the MobiDataLab CODAGON!