Greener BeeGreen GadgetsHacking the daily ride with youth power

How does a hackathon contribute to innovation in public transport and air quality measurement?

Youth for Public Transport (Y4PT), an initiative of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) brought together computer programmers, designers and developers who dived in and came up with answers to move people more efficiently, monitor air quality with mobile sensors, use private commutes to deliver packages and even created a game that encourages people to ditch the personal vehicle in favour of green options.

Here are the winners and top contenders announced at the UITP global summit here:

Ditch

An app that uses a game approach to help youngsters plan a journey using buses, Metros and bicycles, compares it with cars. It even pits children and parents in a competition in the family. As team members Domna-Maria Kaimaki and Juan Sebastian Canavera Herrera, both doctoral students at the University of Cambridge explain, the gamer can take on an avatar, choose her age, plan a journey and get the best travel options. Younger children don’t actually travel, but just use it to play. The route overlaid on Google Maps helps older users make the actual journey and score points. Parents get alerts on the journeys of their children. Rewards for green commutes possible via app, made by a team of six hackers. It won first prize.

upWay

Uses augmented reality and 3D modelling to help people including tourists discover Metro stations, and surrounding services such as restaurants. It can help disabled people using vibrations to locate the closest lift in the station. This is what Pokemon Go would look like if it is applied to transport. The team comprises six people, said Eloi Stree. upWay was chosen joint first along with Ditch.

Air4

If you want to keep your exposure to particulates and other deadly pollutants to the minimum on your travels, this system could help. It is a mobile air pollution measuring platform, transmitting data to the cloud, and linked to an app on a smartphone that would tell you the best route to take to avoid high pollution. You can see the pollution levels on the phone mapped on the city, and choose the least polluted route, said Massimo Santi, a mechanical engineer. The physical measurement device with particulate and carbon monoxide sensors costs ten dollars to build and the plan is to fit one into a soft drink can. Thousands of mobile measuring units will feed data. It won second place in the contest.

Udeliver

Going on a regular commute with ten minutes to spare? This app can help you turn it into some extra cash. The designers thought of monetising a ten minute detour for a car or bike user, to ferry a parcel nearby. The app matches those who ride regularly and those who need to send parcels. Developed by a team from the Czech Republic.

Virtual Bus Stop

Finding a physical bus stop with information on routes, times, local area details is difficult in many cities. How about a virtual bus stop that looks like a real one, with route boards, even life-like advertising and maps? They are all there. There may be no shade at the physical stop, but the virtual one provides all the information that the real one should have. If the bus corporation is ready to give data, that is. Produced by a team from Chile.

Find my taxi

This venture from Cape Town makes it possible for informal share taxis, like those operating in some South African and Indian cities, know that customers are waiting at a given point on their route and confirming revenue possibilities. Passengers also get similar information on the vehicles operating. Works using Facebook messenger. Millions use share vehicles, and such a service is not available even on the main bus network in India. South African queue waiting times for shared rides in mini buses could go up to 45 minutes in peak hours


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