Yesterday was the Urb-hackathon Award Ceremony at USJ’s Science and Technology Campus in Mar Roukoz. The event, under the patronage of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, had the strategic support of Berytech, and was led by experts from la Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris.
This year marks the debut of Urb-Hackathon in the Middle East, organized by e-EcoSolutions and Issa Petrol Trade Energy Center (IPTEC). Having been held in France and South Korea, the event in Lebanon had the support of many key actors in the area, such as UNDP, the Order of Engineers and Architects in Beirut, USJ, l’Institut Francais of the French Embassy, and Global Compact Network Lebanon (GCNL).
The Urb-hackathon is a sprint-like 3-day event in which various groups of people meet to work on resolving a specific issue in a limited amount of time. Professionals, entrepreneurs, ambitious university students and tech geeks, all meet up at the event and are separated into different groups to propose simple solutions that are both technologically innovative and advanced. Those ideas and suggestions will have the chance of being turned into actual projects and be implemented by concerned authorities in order to solve the problems Lebanon faces, or at least help solve them by providing the first step.
Back in January, the Urb-hackathon announced its launch in Lebanon in a press release. The event was explained by its organizers and key partners. Back in February, the participants had a preparatory meeting at the Berytech innovation park in Mar Roukoz. This helped the 37 participants to get familiar with the Urb-hackathon process and introduced them to the latest data concerning the event’s theme.
As a matter of fact, the event’s theme was “Data Urbanism: Reducing City Air Pollution From Transport”. The participants worked hard to invent designs and produce their prototyped solutions, all-the-while using the machines of the Berytech FabLab, being helped by mentors and experts from Universcience in France. The event also featured leadership workshops and insightful presentations. After two days of brainstorming solutions that will allow Lebanon’s cities to function more efficiently, the solutions need to focus on raising awareness among community members, therefore helping create a more sustainable urban environment.
When all the teams were done, their projects had to be submitted to an international jury panel, composed of 8 members. France was represented by Claire Bailly and Jean Magerand of Cite Bio-numerique, and Patricia Pizzorno Sardena, member of Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie. From Lebanon, we had Ziad Nakat, Senior Transport Specialist of the World Banks, Wissam Tawil, UNDP’s Country Director Celine Moyroud, Nation Representative of GCNL Dima Jamali, Berytech Deputy General Manager and Agrytech Program Director Ramy Boujawdeh, and finally, Head of Scientific Committee in the Order of Engineers and Architects of Beirut, Wissam Tawil.
Yesterday was the event’s third and final day, where the awards were distributed by Minister Raya Hasan, representing Prime Minister Hariri. The jury looked for projects that need to allow and encourage people to reduce emissions from transports, and three of the groups would earn one of the three winning positions, as well as an extra special prize for a fourth lucky group.
The fourth group was in fact team SmarT and their SmarT App. They earned the Universcience Prize, a prize that recognizes their work even though it did not get one of the positions. The third position was awarded to the Breathe team for their Breathe App, which informs commutes about air pollution levels as well as traffic conditions around the city. This will help them choose the right routes and right means of transportation. The second position was given to Hackollution team for their “Safayna” (We Parked) project. It’s a Google Maps-like application that allow people to find and spot free parking spaces in order to reserve them 5 minutes before their arrival. This helps save time as well as cut back on CO2 emissions. The SmarT team and Hackollution team earned free access and a free membership to the Berytech FabLab.
Last but not least, the first position was given to team “Beirut Rah Tondaf” (Detox Beirut) for their Smarter Bus project. This idea proposes the purchase of used smartphones and installing them on buses. This allows the drivers to know each other’s exact positions, as well as allow passengers to know when to expect the bus. This way facilitates getting around and helps keep the bus means of transportation organizes. The first position winners got entrepreneurship prizes by Berytech, including incubation and full support.
We can’t wait for the next Urb-hackathon event in Lebanon and see what different teams and projects will arise with the next theme!