Open Innovation Drives Sustainable Transportation Solutions

Published Jun-05-17

Breakthrough:
Sustainable solutions to reduce the environmental impact of public transportation.

Company:
The Youth For Public Transport Foundation, Belgium

The Story:

Open Innovation Drives Sustainable Transportation Solutions The pace of innovation can be frustratingly slow for many different reasons. Intellectual property protections maybe weak, intellectual and financial resources might be thin on the ground, there could be low or no innovation culture within an organization and a fear of the risk of an unknown future to name just a few.

One way to leap over some of the barriers to innovation is with open innovation and encouraging advances through contests and hackathons.

Hackathons are becoming an increasingly common way to innovate in many industries. Transport is one of them. Among the many current challenges that face public transportation organizations the world over are rapid urbanization, urban pollution and congestion. There is an urgent need for energy efficiency in both transport and infrastructure.

First Ever Global Transport Hackathon

The Youth For Public Transport Foundation (Y4PT) with the support of the Union Internationale des Transports Publics (UITP) - the International Association for Public Transport - organized several 48-hour local transport hackathons all over the world. They invited designers, developers, computer programmers and more to explore innovative and sustainable transport solutions in what organizers claim was the world’s first ever global transport hackathon.

These open innovation events were held in Brussels, Barcelona, Moscow, São Paul and Stockholm among other places, and were designed to support the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the goal that relates to transport. This aims to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for everyone by 2030.

The winners of each local hackathon gathered for the final two-day hack in Montréal, Québec, during the 2017 UITP Global Public Transport Summit. A jury panel of transportation experts then selected the winners.

There were two joint winners:

Team Ditch was selected for an app that encourages people to use sustainable transport solutions. For every route, the app presents different modes of transport and points and rewards are given depending on the mode selected.

"Our app uses gamification to motivate kids and their parents to ditch cars and use sustainable transport,” said team member Maria Kaimaki.

The other winner was Team upWay for a navigation app to help people find their way around unfamiliar metro systems. It includes 3D modelling and augmented reality and has a feature to let users discover surrounding restaurants and services.

In second place was TeamAir4 for a mobile air pollution measuring station and an app that uses data from it to calculate routes with the lowest rate of pollution. The third prize was awarded to Team UDeliver. They came up with a delivery service app that can lead to more sustainable and efficient systems for delivery vehicles on the road.

Turning Brilliant Ideas into Action

Coming up with novel ideas is all well and good, but they only gain currency when put into action. Following the presentation of awards, each winning team was invited to spend up to three days with authorities, operators and investors to try and get their innovative concepts off the ground.

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