TiE Announces Winner of the Smart Cities Hackathon

In January of this year, TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) - Silicon Valley Chapter, held a hackathon centered around their latest initiative - Smart Cities. If you don't know TiE, they are a global entrepreneur organization and network helping support entrepreneurs around the globe with its local chapters. TiE's Smart Cities initiative focuses on fostering innovation that improves quality of urban services, reduces cost of providing these services, creates efficient resource utilization, and helps improve the quality of life of citizens. Their hackathon brought 100 global teams together to tackle the world's social and civil issues and specifically - waste management.  Here is the context of why this is important today:

Waste Management Facts:

  • 62 million tones of garbage is generated annually by the 377 million people living in urban India, now the world’s third-largest garbage generator!
  • In a city like Bengaluru, the solid waste generated daily is estimated to be around 5,000 tons.
  • Waste is not collected properly from primary sites and transported to the designated neighborhood area.
  • It is thrown in nearby vacant areas, government vacant land, drains, or littered on streets and corners.
  • It leads to blockage of drains and floods, contamination of water and air pollution, and the spread of diseases.

Two of the semifinalists that stood out used IoT solutions to the waste problem -- one used to deploy waste workers efficiently throughout the city and the other to collect the most trash in the shortest amount of time while minimizing the number of dumps formed. Here are their outlines:

Team Culminant: Deploying Internet of Things (IoT) Software to Enable Smart Cities of India

The first team hacking to solve social issues comprises three members — Ishaan Pathan, Azhar Pathan and Vishal Verma — all of whom are from Bangalore. These three smart young entrepreneurs worked on a smart waste management project, which used IoT software applications to deploy waste workers efficiently across a city. The project uses an intelligent routing system, which identifies the top sites for garbage accumulation and re-routes workers to efficiently clear the waste from those areas.

According to the team, the TiE Hackathon provided a "unique opportunity" to work on a project that "perfectly fits into our vision of tech enabling 100 smart cities of India." They learned how to apply their skills to multiple roles, from product management to testing.

If it can be successfully brought to market, the team's solution could make a significant difference to India's cities, which currently generate 62 million tons of garbage every year. Currently, this garbage is often not collected correctly, instead ending up collecting in vacant lots, in the city's drains and on the streets. This public health hazard blocks drains, leading to floods in the city, and it contaminates water supplies.

Team Vermigold: Applying Smart Algorithm for Smarter Waste Management Solutions

Jaideep Saptarshi and Shiladitya Mukhopadhyaya, both from Mumbai, worked on an IoT project that aimed to maximize the amount of trash collected in the least amount of time, while minimizing the number of dumps formed.

The entrepreneurs used a smart algorithm to work out where to apply sensors, allowing them to minimize the cost of the system while maintaining its effectiveness. These sensors provide information about the amount of accumulated trash, allowing workers to focus their efforts as efficiently as possible to maximize the amount of trash they can clear away in the time available.

Jaideep, founder and executive director at the waste management company Vermigold Ecotech Pvt Ltd, said, "We are going to take this product to market and actually deploy it in a real smart city." Meanwhile, Pointshelf founder and CEO Shiladitya spoke about the benefits of taking part in the TiE Hackathon. "The fact that TiE has given us this platform will really help us meet the right kind of people," he said, adding that the team hoped to apply the solution they have developed in real world scenarios.

And the winner is...

Team Culminant

Chair of the selection committee, Vipin Jain, said "Team Culminant stood out in terms of their thinking about the problem, approach to problem solving to optimize the outcome, attention to details (that made their tech team fix a few things early on in the process), design, implementation and visualization - it was an impressive feat."

Here is what they win -- $5,000 cash prize + TiEcon passes. TiEcon is an annual entrepreneur conference which attracts business professionals and startup employees alike with its keynote speakers, educational tracks, and networking opportunities. Check it out.


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