Top 5 Hackathon Projects for the Environment

Sean Thompson on in Bits

Hackathons are a great way to address environmental concerns. Here are my five favorite examples of environmental hackathon projects:

Triple Active Transport: MIT’s first Clean Earth Hackathon brought teams together specifically to target complex sustainability challenges. Among the winning projects, Houston Cyclists and Complete Streets enthusiasts might be interested in Team Cosmopolitan’s app Triple Active Transport which was designed to help the Massachusetts Department of Transportation track cyclists, help cities determine the most popular cycling routes, and incentivize alternative transportation methods.

WattTime: Started at EcoHack, WaitTime uses “Environmental Demand Response” to trace who’s selling electricity, how the electricity is produced, and can delay your device’s power consumption to take advantage of clean, renewable sources of energy.

Green It: Sometimes communicating with government can feel like sending email into a black hole. That may be the inspiration behind GDG Karachi’s Green It. A product of Google’s 2013 “Develop for Good” Hackathon, Green It lets users report local environmental concerns to public officials, allows other users to upvote concerns, and provides a public interface to show if action has been taken. We imagine a similar interface could be the basis for transparent citizen-government discussions across the planet.

Monarchy: The Monarch Butterfly population is estimated to be at its lowest point in two decades due to the combined effects of deforestation and climate change. Monarchy, winner of the 2014 SXSW Ecohackathon, aims to change that by empowering citizen-scientists to help the species bounce back. Users can collectively track Monarch Butterfly sightings to help better understand movement patterns while also determining the best species of milkweed, a favored Monarch snack, to plant in their area.

Recyclops: 2015 saw the first UC-Santa Cruz hackathon and their students rose to the challenge. From Plant Anywhere, a game that uses light and moisture sensors to predict how plants would grow in your area, to Team Jeanne, an app that lets you nudge a family member to remember their medication, the top projects were distinct, relevant, and useful.

Interested in setting up a hackathon in your community? Zachary Bastian of the Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program has prepared a road map detailing the challenges involved in developing effective, sustainable hackathon programs.

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Sean Thompson