UC Berkeley students lead the way on another continent…
“In collaboration with researchers at the agency and at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Wu and Deshmukh are working with officials from 22 countries in eastern and southern Africa to identify zones that are well-suited for development of electricity production from wind, solar, and geothermal energy.”
This past weekend, the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC) hosted its second annual Cleanweb Hackathon. This event was a powerful embodiment of BERC’s mission – to connect, engage, and educate its members in order to foster innovation and action; it was a forum for attendees to learn about the trends in cleanweb, learn about basic application development skills, and build connections with each other. After an evening of mingling and a morning of skills training, the 40+ participants (who hailed from UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and the greater Bay Area) raced to build web-based applications to address current challenges in energy and water.
The Hackathon, which was selected as Students for a Smarter Planet project, posed questions across different tracks. Each team selected a track to focus on; one grand prize was awarded for the winner, and individual prizes were awarded within each track. Fueled only by pizza, optimism, and an irrepressible desire to change the world, our teams sought to address these questions:
- Energy: How can our appliances and devices work for us by saving money and increase the ability of the power grid to make use of intermittent renewable power? Define a new approach to controlling appliances and devices that is responsive to electricity prices and other real-time and predictive data streams (e.g., weather forecasts).
- Water: California is an ongoing drought, yet not enough action is being taken by individuals, businesses, and cities to conserve water and lower the collective water footprint of our society! Design a web application or visualization that can lead to better understanding and action on water use in California. Consider both direct water use as well as indirect water use (from our consumption of food and electricity for instance).
Our judges were impressed by the resourcefulness and creativity of the teams. In a matter of hours, they devised innovative ways to meaningfully use energy and water data, employ sensors in entirely new applications, and empower consumers with the data they need to take action on energy and resource issues. And now (drumroll please!), here are the 2014 Cleanweb Hackathon winners:
- GRAND PRIZE: Smarter Sprinklr - A combination of open source hardware and software to make intelligent home irrigation schedules based on current weather, drought, seasonal, and user-based information.
- WINNER – WATER: QE Design – Different foods from different places can have the same nutrition, but require vastly different amounts of water. Given all the data available today, what’s the optimal way to eat, to sustain both ourselves and the Earth? QE Design’s solution analyzes USDA and Water Footprint Network data to make diet recommendations.
- WINNER – ENERGY: Greenvite - The smart, green, social way to organize a meeting and book a conference room with your colleagues. The app analyzes available conference rooms and time slots, and then calculates associated energy use and costs (taking into account weather, HVAC loads, time of day, and other data), so that the least amount of energy is used while saving money.
- RUNNER-UP – ENERGY: DashPower - The app allows building managers to catalog and forecast energy costs, and compare those to their allotted budget. The app was designed with school facility managers in mind, since energy costs are the 2nd highest line item expenditure for schools after teacher salary.
Please check out our winners’ apps! Although the competition ended this weekend, we hope that these projects will live on (in fact, we’ve got a track record for being the launching pad of cleanweb apps! Check out last year’s winners Watttime and Thermostatly). And while the teams competed for cash prizes, the real winners here are the students and our community. The teams’ innovative yet practical applications inspired us all to consider our everyday use of energy and resources in novel ways.
Students for a Smarter Planet is supporting Berkeley in running their hackathon at the Energy Institute at Haas / Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative.
Entrants build software-based business solutions and open-source code for energy and resource challenges. Around 75 attendees (from computer science, information science, engineering, business, energy & resources, and other departments) will compete over the course of a weekend to build apps under two themes: 1) Water: Solving California’s Water Crisis and 2) Energy: Revolutionizing Building Energy Efficiency. Last year’s hackathon resulted in two software-based business solutions, WattTime and Thermostatly. Additionally, we will have an open-source coding track, to build open-source data collection standards for smart meter data. See more at http://berkeley.cleanweb.co