A combination of the words “hack”, to program in a skilful way, and “marathon”, a long-lasting endurance contest, a hackathon is an event in which a group of computer programmers, generally students or technologically savvy youth, work collectively on writing software surrounding a set theme. Events generally last from one day to one week.
Hackathons are becoming common in many industries – especially those heavily influenced by the increasing need for digitalisation – and the public transport sector is no exception.
At the end of 2015, a hackathon was organised by Transdev Sweden to much success. Said Eva Tiséus, Transdev Sweden’s marketing and communications director, “We felt that the continuing trend towards digitalisation offers new possibilities for public transportation but we needed external inspiration”. Eva and her colleagues put together students with different academic backgrounds from the international Hyper Island School and held an event for 72 hours. “The aim of our Society Hack hackathon was to find digital solutions to get new ideas to develop public transport with a focus on the customer experience and congestion”, said Eva.
Out of 38 great ideas of the hackathon, Transdev Sweden is now realising three projects and there are more in the pipeline.
Eva describes the experience as “great, and filled with so much energy and creativity”, and would consider repeating it with a design or art school for the design of trains, busses and boats. Discover the Society Hack experience video here.
In the same spirit as Eva and her Transdev Sweden colleagues, Youth For Public Transport Foundation (Y4PT), with the support of the UITP and its members, is organising several 48-hour LOCAL TRANSPORT HACKATHONs around the world with the goal of exploring new technologies to increase sustainability, while encouraging youth to get involved with the public transport sector.
Winners of each local transport hackathon will gather together in Montréal, Québec (Canada, North America), during the 2017 UITP Global Public Transport Summit to challenge each other in a final round – the global transport hackathon – to come out, all together, with the best ground-breaking solutions.
So far, there are local events planned for Barcelona, Brussels, Bogotá, Montréal, Moscow and Stockholm. However, all universities, youth groups, tech ICT companies, start-ups or transport companies, regardless of location, are invited to take part. All needed information on this first ever worldwide transport hackathon, can be found at http://www.y4pt.org/projects/hackathon.