Guest blog by Jessica Verhagen, Director and Lead Negotiator, Climate Action Secretariat
On September 28 – 30, the YVR Cleanweb Hackathon brought together Vancouver’s cleantech and information technology (IT) communities.
The idea behind the hackathon was to infuse information technology with sustainability, create internet, social media and mobile apps to address pressing environmental issues, and bring cleantech innovations to the forefront.
Teams had 12 hours to create apps from scratch using code along with APIs and datasets, including from the Climate Action Secretariat’s Climate Change Data Catalogue and DataBC.
The Climate Action Secretariat was an event sponsor. Tim Lesiuk, Executive Director, Business Development and Chief Negotiator, Climate Action Secretariat, and I attended to provide mentorship and help judge the apps that were submitted.
For participants use, we also highlighted the Province’s Community Energy and Emissions Inventory (CEEI) data, which is open data under the B.C. Open Government License. The CEEI represents energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from community activities in on-road transportation, buildings and solid waste, and is used by provincial and municipal planners to meet their climate action commitments.
This is the first hackathon I have attended. Many of the participants enjoyed having the mentors participate as the mentors had the content expertise while the developers had the know-how to create applications. The learning definitely went both ways as I now understand the kind of data they like working with best – open source and the closer to real time, the better.
The hackathon was a great fit with the Climate Action Secretariat’s work with cleantech companies to find new ways to develop the sector as part of the BC’s Green Economy: Growing Green Jobs. Cleantech provides business solutions to traditional industry’s environmental problems, and is critical to advance our green economy. While still young, BC’s clean tech sector shows tremendous opportunity for growth, potentially doubling by 2020 according to KPMG’s Cleantech Report Card for British Columbia.
A total of 12 apps were submitted, and prizes for different categories were awarded. The winner of the Best Climate Action App was a tie between Epic Energy III and Energy Predictor. Created by Croctopluse, Epic Energy 111 is an educational building energy simulation, which you can play online. Energy Predictor uses historical temperature data and climate change temperature predictions to forecast how much more energy buildings will use when the climate warms.
If you are interested in checking out the other winners or would like to find out more about the YVR Cleanweb Hackathon check out their website.
B.C. is worldwide as a leader on green economic growth and the green jobs that come with it. By implementing policies that support sustainability in industry and innovation in the clean technology sector, we have created an environment where forward-thinking solutions can flourish.
Coinciding with a sister event in New York City, Vancouver was a natural location for a “clean” hackathon as we’re becoming a hub for start-ups in smart energy, transportation, web, mobile and socially focused companies and entrepreneurs. We look forward to participating in more events like the YVR Cleanweb Hackathon in the future. These events can be helpful in solving issues we have in government, whether it’s how to reduce energy or how to get citizens more engaged.
If you have ideas for a more specific theme for future events, please leave a comment below or get in touch with me at Jessica.Verhagen@gov.bc.ca.