Hack Your City v1.0

Wellington’s first Civic Hackathon was carried out over the weekend of November 1st and 2nd. Over thirty designers, developers, hardware specialists, mesh network builders, residents, urban planners, GIS wranglers, transport enthusiasts, and train watchers spent two days hacking the transport issues focussing on Eastern Suburbs and the CBD. The "wiki" for the event with loads of information can be found here: https://hack-miramar.wikispaces.com/

Why? 

One of Wellington City’s greatest challenges and contentious issues is that of traffic management and flow. Traffic being pedestrians, cyclists, public transport, taxis, freight, and private vehicles. Therefore the challenge was: How do we increase the quality of transport around the Eastern Suburbs Peninsula and to and from the Central Business District?”

What

The group worked over two days to produce five ideas that they then presented to a Dragon’s Den style team that included our very own Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, as well as team representatives and members of the Miramar business improvement district group. Over the two days visitors came and learned about traffic flows, how to monitor cycle and pedestrian traffic, all but three of the Wellington City Councillor’s visited along with one of the Greater Wellington Regional Councillors. At the end of the weekend there were five outputs:

TaxiPool

Thousands of travellers disembark every day at Wellington Airport. Hundreds of taxis can congest the route between Eastern Suburbs and the CBD as waves of passengers arrive. The team set about about figuring out how to reduce the number of taxi trips, decrease the cost of taxi travel for the passengers, create networking opportunities, and reduce impact on the environment.

TaxiPool allows a passenger to find travellers heading to a similar destination as they exit their aircraft. Quickly linking together people, travellers can then share a taxi, saving cost on their fares, reducing the number of taxis on the road, and so reducing pollution and congestion.

Real Time Bus Travel Application

Bus travel is suffering from a lack of technology boost in Wellington. In other major centres you can see when your bus is coming in real-time. However, in the Capital the bus company can’t, or won’t make that information available for developers. So what to do? Collect it ourselves.

The Real Time Bus Travel Application allows you to see exactly when your bus is coming, where it is on a map, the mood of the driver, and how full it is. Better, it’s gamified, that means that you collect points by participating and stand to win Snapper Dollars each month.

When you hop onto your bus, you check-in, tell the world how full the bus is, glance at the driver for their mood, and obviously every-time, choose that smiley face. This means that you can not only see when your bus is coming, you can choose whether you want to get on a full bus, or wait ten minutes and have another coffee for a bus with a driver that is in a fantastic move and all the seats you could want.

Traffic Visualisation

Taking the data from AraFlow sensors, that collect bluetooth signal movements, this team worked on visualising traffic flows across the city intersection by intersection. This visualisation could be used to show drivers which is the next least congested intersection on their route into the city, so as to follow a path with less traffic than the main routes.

Travel Corridors and Future Innovators

This team looked at alternate modes of transport and different ways of getting into the city. From travelators, to extra ferry services, tunnels, gondolas, monorail (slightly tongue in cheek), and other types of transport.

Cycle Tracking

Using the Internet of Things this team built pedestrian and cycle-trackers for a fraction of the cost of buying them off the shelf. Items that cost more than $3,000 can be hand-built quickly for around $150. To demonstrate this the team built a series of Internet of Things pedestrian and cycle trackers that monitored pressure, used radar, could take weather readings, air pollution data, and a host of other data. Prototypes will be installed shortly on some of Wellington’s Mountain Bike tracks to help gather usage data.

Where to from here

All of the ideas from the weekend have been open sourced and published on the Hack Miramar Website. The groups are going to speak with the Council before end of year in an effort to seek support for developing the prototypes for the weekend to full public availability. Plans for the next Civic Hackathon have begun, with March 2015 set down as the likely date for Version 2.0 which will face a new challenge and generate new ideas.

The Organisers

The three organisers are Mike Riversdale, Ben Wilde, and Ian Apperley. Geeks at heart with trades in the ICT and Innovation industries, Mike, Ian, and Ben are residents of Eastern Suburbs.

The Sponsors

AraFlow, Downer ITS, Helfen, Catalyst, NZ Wireless, Social Pinpoint, Boost New Media, Wellington City Council, Mike Clare, Wellington International Airport.