Space Apps Challenge: An Open Innovation Incubator to Help Nasa Solve Problems

Published Dec-03-18

Breakthrough:
A visualization tool that improves the accuracy of landslide prediction allowing experts to issue alerts sooner.

Company:
NASA, United States

The Story:

Space Apps Challenge: An Open Innovation Incubator to Help Nasa Solve Problems The American space agency NASA is home to some of the smartest brains on the planet but even so it knows it doesn’t have the monopoly on great ideas which is why for many years it has engaged with numerous open innovation approaches.

One of its most high-profile open innovation initiatives is the Space Apps Challenge. This is a huge global competition to tackle earthbound and space-bound scientific challenges. Since its inception in 2012, thousands of people have contributed a vast range of innovative solutions.

The hackathon takes place in a 48-hour period in cities around the world and invites coders, entrepreneurs, technologists and anyone with an interest to participate. The 2017 edition of the contest was held in 187 locations in 69 countries and attracted 25,000 participants.

They could take their pick of any of five challenges to work on. Among them were:

Ideate and Create! - this challenged participants to interpret NASA Earth Science data creatively and design new means to experience NASA Earth Science data and technologies.

Warning! Danger Ahead! -this challenged participants to analyze NASA data to help monitor natural disasters and phenomena associated with health risks, and to assess their impacts on life and property.

The Earth and Us - this challenged participants to combine NASA Earth Science data with sociological and economic information to generate new perspectives on human-environment interactions.

A total of 2,017 projects were submitted and prizes were awarded locally and globally in several categories including the Best Use of Data, the Best Mission Concept and the Most Inspirational.

Among the global winners were:

The Best Mission Concept was awarded to the Space Bar team from Taipei for an easy-to-use visualization tool for landslide prediction. The team reformatted NASA data and merged it with data from local governments to increase the accuracy of predictions, issue alerts earlier and inform rescue teams about changing conditions in disaster areas.

The Most Inspirational Prize was awarded to the Grovr team from Kuala Lumpur for helping to address increasing urbanization by gamifying plants that help clean air in our homes. It builds on a NASA study that showed that some plants can remove harmful chemicals from the air. This social game encourages people to grow plants that are good for their area.

The Best Use of Data was awarded to the Lemon Py team from Buenos Aires for a solution that helps citizens of the Argentinian capital breathe easier. Almost 10% of the city's trees are from the Platanus genus which produces a lot of pollen that can cause allergies. So, the team's app combines weather data with city maps that pinpoint trees to provide routes for people to minimize their exposure to pollen.

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