“Hacking” our transport systems at the Transport & You(th) Hackathon by Rong Kang Chew

This weekend, people all over Singapore have gathered at the Employment and Employability Institute in Jurong to hack our Singapore transport systems…

No it’s not that kind of hacking you might be thinking about! These people are quickly creating new apps and software that are going to change how we use public transport daily, “hacking” together new ideas within the short span of two days.

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Singapore Land Transport Authority’s Transport and You(th) Hackathon kicked off on the evening Friday, 16 April with participants meeting up in the e2i event halls – the venue for the next 3 days of hacking and presentations.

Day 1 – April 16

Hackers receive a neat hackathon "passport" at registration, which doubles as a guide and a pin-up poster!
Hackers receive a neat hackathon “passport” at registration, which doubles as a guide and a pin-up poster!

Teams and individuals streamed in, quickly forming groups and selecting their mentors that would provide advice and improvements on their ideas. These mentors came from various organizations included NCS and Microsoft. Microsoft Singapore’s very own technical evangelists: Chun Siong, Terence and Riza, plus Security Advisor: Gary, soon found themselves with a number of teams to watch over!

 
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There were a wide variety a participants between 17 to 30 years of age at the event, many were polytechnic and university students, but there were also individuals and members from tech startups in Singapore.

Mr Chew Men Leong, Chief Executive of LTA kicked off the event, announcing the 3 challenge themes for the hackathon: I Love Public Transport, Caring For Those With Special Needs, and Active Mobility. Hackers will build applications that serve to improve our public transport systems one of those 3 areas.

The Immediate Past President of Singapore Computer Society, Mr Chak Kong Soon, also shared some valuable advice to participants on what they should to do to turn their ideas into startup businesses after the hackathon.

Day 2 & 3 – April 17 to 18

Intense hacking began on the morning of April 17. But wait! Teams had to test their ideas with members of the community. Individuals with special needs came down to the hackathon to share with participants their daily commute patterns and discuss with the teams on solutions that may help them.

 

Hackers were seen creating a variety of different applications using different platforms: web apps, native and multi-platform mobile apps, and more. Many were seen fiddling with Arduino microcontrollers and other forms of IoT. All participants were also given free Azure credits to test and host their applications on the Microsoft Cloud platform.

Teams also had the chance to get their ideas beautifully illustrated by students from Nanyang Polytechnic School of Interactive & Digital Media

 

Technical Evangelist Terence, busy thinking about good pitching ideas for the teams under his mentorship.
Technical Evangelist Terence, busy thinking about good pitching ideas for the teams under his mentorship.

Throughout the hackathon, team mentors were busy rotating between tables and providing insightful advice to the various teams under their mentorship. Microsoft technical evangelists also gave technical advice, giving suggestions for implementing a technology stack, and helping to debug applications. The hacking spirit was thick in the air too, with teams working together by sharing resources and solving bugs!

Mentors Chun Siong, Gary, and Terence had the chance to provide feedback to all the teams, alongside other mentors and local developer veterans.
Mentors Chun Siong, Gary, and Terence had the chance to provide feedback to all the teams, alongside other mentors and local developer veterans.

Hackers had many chances to iterate and re-iterate with on their ideas throughout the hackathon. On Day 2, there was a 2 minute “elevator pitch” where teams had the chance to present to all the mentors and developers of local transport apps like SG Nextbus and SBS iris. While it was almost like cargo lift with the number of people listening into their presentation, teams received useful advice in fine-tuning their hacks and demos for the big day…

Riza's cake was not a lie. It was however, a black forest cake.
Riza’s cake was not a lie. It was however, a black forest cake.

We also took a little moment to celebrate Tech Evangelist’s Riza’s Birthday! You’ll know how dedicated someone is once he spends his birthday at a hackathon!

The final hours are here…

Hackers will presenter their transport-themed hacks to the judges on Day 3, 19 April. Who will emerge champions of the 3 prize categories? $3,000 will be given to the most promising transport app, $2,000 for best app in each of the themes, and $1,000 for the people’s choice winner. Spiffy writer Rong Kang will be there to take a look at the apps and final presentations.

Read about the finalist and find out who won in our liveblog coverage: http://www.spiffy.sg/events/liveblog-lta-transport-youth-hackathon-finals/

Fore more information about the Transport & You(th) Hackathon, please visit their official website: http://transportandyouth.mytransport.sg/

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