Manchester Travel Hackathon

Hackout Manchester will be a part of the world’s first ever global transport hackathon taking place in 20 different countries selected by UITP (International Association of Public Transport). The idea behind hackathon, organised by Youth for Public Transport (Y4PT) and TravelSpirit Foundation, is to bring together young talented developers for an intense weekend of work on creative solutions for transport and travel.

Youth For Public Transport is an international non-governmental youth organisation that promotes the active participation of young people in advocating sustainable mobility. Thus, hackathons around the world aim to bring the best ideas and young talents to solve the challenges set up for the future of transportation.

Sparta Digital currently has over 40 beacons installed in Manchester and plan the future installation (LPWAN for IoT) of 200 hundred environmental sensors with beacons in the city centre and Oxford Road corridor. As we are a part of the TravelSpirit Foundation, with our Chief Technology Officer Li Yao on the board, we will provide developers with API and interface to develop their own apps, that can interact  with those sensors. TravelSpirit was established to accelerate the adoption of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) systems that integrate discovery, booking, and payment of multimodal transportation service offerings under an open marketplace. By connecting coders, planners, activists, and policy-makers through a global network, TravelSpirit is better equipped to tackle these challenges.

Bring your ideas, your skills, and your energy, and together let’s change the world!

Sparta supports the Manchester Hackout by giving competition theme suggestions and providing technical support. Developers taking part in the hackathon will be able to face a few ‘hot topics’, all around the Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, UI/UX, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Internet of Things and lastly the Customer Experience.

Overall challenges range from Smart Cycling, through Talkative Bus Stops to VR Real User Experience. CityVerve, a £10m Smart City project,  inspires a lot of issues addressed on the Hackathon.  Sparta’s challenges include:

Web based Prototype AR Wayfinding & City Discovery using beacon network both indoor and outdoor

Use of Video Analysis to extract key information from a live feed using Open Source frame work such as OpenCV

Next bus arrival capture without need of Active Vehicle locations

At the same time we are hoping to find real talent among all the participating developers. The winning team of Manchester Transport Hackout will fly to Montreal for the 1st Y4PT Global Transport Hackathon Montreal 2017 to compete in a final round for unveiling the world’s best ground-breaking transport solutions.

Sparta is actively working on the City Concierge project within CityVerve, Manchester £10m smart city demonstrator, in which our goal is to develop an AR (augmented reality) based way-finding service. Manchester Travel Hackathon might help us to create more integrated apps able to interact with sensors. City Concierge aims to improve the way people navigate around the city with a digital solution in conjunction with physical wayfinding assets. It is at the same time enabling more tailored information to the travellers of the city and provide more choice to the end user.

Traffic issues in Manchester

Other main topics for Sparta within smart city project CityVerve are also Talkative Bus Stops, Air Quality and Traffic. We are monitoring traffic levels in Manchester, offering a number of solutions on how to improve the air quality and traffic management systems. For Talkative Bus Stops Sparta is exploring how to increase public transport ridership as well as bus stops space in terms of security and more useful, real-time travel information for users.

According to the data published by Department of Transport the amount of cars on the major roads in Manchester is progressively rising. Only in 2015 the numbers have drastically risen from 794, 768 to 798,761. There has also been a steep increase in the number of buses and coaches on the roads.

Road transport is having a seriously detrimental impact on air quality in the conurbation. This is a significant cause of poor health, with emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates (small particles) the main problem. Like other major UK cities, Manchester needs to cut NO2 emissions to meet EU limits.

Current users’ travel habits are yet to be determined, therefore CityVerve plays a crucial role in making Manchester a smarter city, while collecting all the most important and latest data for public transport providers and City Council.  At the same time the project is strongly  encouraging walking and cycling among citizens, as the amount of cyclists is slowly decreasing each year. Pedestrians and cyclist are also the main focus of the TfGM (Transport for Greater Manchester) strategy until 2040.

Technology usage predictions

The global IoT industry is expected to become a $14.4T market by 2022 (Cisco).

With a year to year increase in the usage of the technology CityVerve brings together the brightest minds and pioneering the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology to redefine ‘smart’ in the context of a living, working city. It’s creating a city that uses technology to meet the complex needs of its people, putting people in the very core of it.  There will be more than 50 billion Internet of Things connected devices by 2020. Also, 68% of UK adults will be daily mobile internet users. Therefore within CityVerve we are responding to all those needs with the latest technologies and new, innovative solutions, trying to make the city more accessible to anyone.

In the UK, the government has invested £32M to accelerate its national IoT capability. Recently, the City of Manchester was named as the country’s IoT capital, boosting innovation in transportation, energy, and the healthcare.

Hackout Manchester will be a great opportunity for us to get a new approach to the issues we have to tackle within smart cities. While participants will be finding innovative ways to answer the given challenges, TravelSpirit will hold an event, (MaaS Reloaded) for supporting organisations. The purpose of it is to focus the minds of leading thinkers in the ‘Internet of Things’, ‘Mobility as a Service’ and ‘Connected & Autonomous Vehicles’ space. During the event the challenges for the hackathon will be discussed and any outcomes will be used as learnings for Hackout.

Developers, ideas generators and coders will have a chance to participate in the hackathon and work on solutions which can genuinely and measurably improve lives. The event takes place at The Shed (next to Manchester Metropolitan University) and starts on Friday night on the 17th of March.

Sparta’s projects

Due to a strong expertise in the Internet of Things, Sparta is delivering innovative solutions for smart cities. Not only exploring augmented reality, we provide cities with beacon technology which is also being used in proximity marketing by retailers, venues and major festivals in Manchester. Some of examples of our work includes the famous Gay Pride Festival 2016 and the recent Chinese New Year 2017 celebrations. At the same time we are actively looking for new ways to protect historic sites and cultural heritage with IoT technology for the European project STORM and how to improve the experience of citizens and companies in their daily interactions with the public administration for European project Simpatico