Starting in September 2022, Avanade partnered with Major League Hacking (MLH) to run the “Best Sustainability Hack” challenge at 50 hackathons around the world.
The challenge was inspiring. Participants were asked to make a genuine human impact using their ingenuity to address sustainability through the innovative use of technology. To demonstrate how they could create a more sustainable future and help the environment.
“I continue to believe that hackathons and the tech community can be a huge power for good, enabling us to crowdsource solutions to important sustainability challenges the world faces today,” shared Lee Englestone, Developer Relations Lead at Avanade.
With the “Best Sustainability Hack” proving to be a popular challenge amongst participants, the partnership resulted in over 400 sustainability-themed project submissions over the course of the 50 hackathons. Ranging in technology, approach, and sustainability issues addressed.
“In particular, I like how hackathons are designed with action & experimentation in mind. In a world that suffers from excessive discussion around innovation, hackathons encourage immediate action & practical, tangible innovation. They also show the sheer power of community and how it can be leveraged for good.”
Below are some of our top 10 favorite Avanade Best Sustainability hackathon projects to help inspire your next hack!
1. Ecobot created by Isabella Lu, Justin Leong, Charlie Wright, and Daisy Zeng at EcoHacks
The ocean and marine animals suffer severely from plastic pollution. To solve this issue, this team developed a YOLOv4 AI model that detects ocean plastic.
“The ocean is heavily threatened by plastic pollution. 40% of the ocean surface is polluted by plastic, over a million animals die each year from plastic pollution, 1 in 3 fish caught for human consumption contain plastic and coral reefs odds of dying increase after encountering plastic. To solve this issue, we have developed Ecobot.
Ecobot is a YOLOv4 AI model that can detect ocean plastic and locate it with a bounding box. We achieved up to 99% confidence in some bounding boxes! It was also our first time creating an AI model on our own, so we’re happy we ended up with a finished product. In addition, most of us had little experience with HTML/CSS, so we had to self-teach ourselves some of the necessary concepts within 48 hours.”
2. Sowing is Growing created by Chloe Lodge and Thomas Dove at HackTheMidLands
Sharing is caring but with seeds! Taking the concept of a seed library and moving it onto an online platform, this team developed a hack to make it easier for individuals to share seeds.
“We were inspired by the Future Museum in Berlin which had a section on sustainable living and ideas to promote sustainability in the community. In this display, the idea of a seed library was described, where people can “take out” seeds from the library, grow plants with them and then “return” the seeds to the library from their grown plants. We wanted to take this idea and bring it online, and making it easier for people to share seeds with others in their local area.”
3. CarbonAtlDel created by Tina Yau and Kei Chan ‘Fuwa’ at SustainHacks
CarbonAltDel is a platform that helps restaurants reduce carbon emissions by giving them the data they need to sustainably order ingredients.
“Both members of our team grew up in the family restaurant business, and Kei is a Head Pastry Chef working in a London restaurant. We wanted to build a product that would help our colleagues and friends working in the restaurant industry become more sustainable. Whether it’s a high street fish and chip shop or a 1 Michelin Star restaurant, we want to be there to support restaurants in their sustainability journey.
CarbonAltDel is a platform that helps UK restaurants compare and order their ingredients with one-click, showing up-to-date prices and carbon emissions of everything a restaurant needs. Not only that, restaurants can track their carbon emissions and offset them with each order using carbon credits, making every single order carbon neutral. We hope that this easy-to-use website will help restaurants achieve quick wins in their Net Zero journey, helping them and their team make the sustainable choice, the easy choice.”
4. Crops+ created by Arnav Kumar, Abhigya Shridhar, and Gianni Crivello at AutumnHacks.
“Crops+ is an easy-to-use website that helps farmers maximize their agricultural efficiency. Farmers have to randomly selects 10 soil particle samples from their plot of land and input the diameter of each into the form on the website. This inputted data is then run through a kNN machine learning algorithm trained on a manually-constructed dataset. The algorithm then returns the soil type and ideal crops for plantation to the farmer.“
“I recently watched a documentary about deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. It stated that a leading cause of the issue was that farmers cut down many trees in order to make space for farmland. I thought to myself, “we should really be making the most of the land we already use for farming instead of using more.” This gave me the idea for Crops+.”
5. Plantagotchi created by Lewis Chip, John Brock, and Alex Elwell at Royal Hackaway.
Plantagotchi uses a raspberry-pi to detect when your plant needs to be watered and automatically waters it for you.
6. GasUp created by Ryan Pattillo, Jason Lam, Tim Yang, and Luivader at ShellHacks.
GasUp is a payment management application that makes it easier for friends and family to split the cost of sharing a car ride.
“As a college student, I have frequently found myself in the situation of “Who wants to drive?”, “Could you send me gas money?”, “How much should I pay you for gas?”. Riding with friends and splitting the cost of gas is a very common ordeal.
GasUp is a payment management application that will handle the frequent question of “Could you send me gas money?” A user will only be responsible for initially inputting the make/model of their car, adding friends, and recording their drives. Using the make/model of your car, estimated gas price, GPS data, and additional algorithms GasUp will compute exactly how much each friend owes and provide a visually pleasing interface to display this information.”
7. Your Biggest Fan created by Larsnotlars Schuster and Nicolas Mendoza at jacobsHack!2022.
Your Biggest Fan helps users identify the best location for a windmill. Combining their physics, computer science, and electrical engineering engineering knowledge – these students sought to create a solution to make renewable energy options more accessible.
“As a team of two CS Students, one Physics and one ECE-major we tried to find a topic topic to combine the knowledge of all the fields. The sector of renewable energy was instantly appealing. When talking to PHD students we found out about the challenges that the placement of wind turbines poses and how different parameters of the wind as well as the turbine itself affect the power that can be generated. The natural question to pop up was: Where should a specific wind turbine be placed?
We implemented a windmill-location assistant: it has three modalities which allow a windmill provider to choose the optimal locations among a set of possibilities.”
8. Spot The Spot created by Ethan Horowitz, Kaelyn Pieter, Michael Bryant, Philip Xue, Lily Chiavetta at HackDuke.
Spot The Spot identifies what parking spots are currently in use and identifies the number and location of open spots.
“Parking for students at Duke is an absolute nightmare. Imagine spending 45 minutes circling a lot as you struggle to find that one free spot. That is every Duke student’s constant state of parking. With very limited space for student parking, we try and find the closest spot possible, because no one wants to walk fifteen minutes in the cold or dark
Spot the Spot identifies what parking spots are currently in use and identifies how many and where the free spots are. This allows an individual to know exactly where there is a free spot for them to take, eliminating the need to waste gas and time by circling lots.”
9. pRice created by Christopher, Yunawelee Lee, and hjpark1014 at HackRice 12.
pRice is an app for Rice students that lets them buy, sell, and advertise their stuff in one location helping students save money and reduce waste.
“Students at Rice often sell and buy from each other, but there’s no centralized platform. Advertisements can often be lost among other information and promotions, and it’s hard to find what you’re looking for or get rid of your stuff in a timely manner. By creating this pRice app for Rice students in which they can buy, advertise, and sell their stuff in one centralized location.”
“pRice connects sellers to buyers and allows interaction through the chat conversation to make the sell/buy used goods process easier. It is a straightforward layout for searching for used goods and endorses students to create a self-sustainable culture. We allow students to sell anything from textbooks to tickets, and couches to cookies!”
10. C4 – Carbon Media created by Rihab Ghosh, Tejas Kalpathi, Zea Khoja, and Zarik Khan at TiE University APP-A-THON 2022.
“Carbon Media was born from the idea of implementing Kimberly Clarke’s right cycle program into a user-friendly app that helps reduce PPE waste and envisions a clean, carbon-neutral future.
Our product uses a Carbon Calculator that receives input from the user such as their yearly energy usage, total wastage that goes to landfills, and all transportation-related pollution. It offers alternatives that allow clients to reduce CO2 emissions while maintaining cost and effectiveness.”
Play and experimentation are not only key themes in hackathons, but according to Lee, form a crucial mindset when it comes to approaching both theoretical and practical innovation, believing that the only way we will solve some of the world’s biggest problems with technology is by giving people (especially future generations) the encouragement, space, and opportunities like this to experiment and innovate.
Lee reminds us. “If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always got. Only by trying new things, from different perspectives, will we discover new opportunities or solutions to problems that have previously evaded us”.
Hackathons are a fantastic creative outlet that encourages experimentation and innovation. It has been wonderful to see a wide variety of creative solutions and encouraging to see the participants throw themselves into the Best Sustainability Hack Challenge.