An exciting and fast-paced weekend of creativity and innovation, finding solutions to the problems of congestion in Cambridge

On the weekend of the 25th and 26th February, 2017 the Cambridge Transport Hack brought together coders, designers, transport professionals, local tech groups, students and young minds, to participate in solving transport problems in Cambridge. Held at the IFM, Cambridge University, it was a hugely inspiring event, with a fantastic turnout of participants who arrived excited and stoked to get started, their heads full of innovative and creative ideas. John Monks, Co-founder of Impact Hub and one of the Cambridge Hack organisers, who sported an enviable belt of flipchart markers, said the idea of the event is to harness youth innovation with bright minds developing impactful solutions to one of the most pressing urban challenges.

The team with the winning idea would send a representative to Montreal to take part in the first Y4PT (Youth 4 Public Transport) transport hack. Also up for grabs was a 'Pete's Pedals' electric bike.

The Cycle.land team was there as part of a group of mentors to guide and help the participants when needed. There were many inspiring mentors from local organizations, including Martin Lucas-Smith from Camcycle campaign, University of Cambridge Transport Manager, Jess Cunningham, and other mentors that covered various areas of expertise within the transport industry. The mentors wore badges that spotlighted them as sources of knowledge that participants could draw on to help with their plans and ideas.

The weekend got off to a very exciting start. Mentors were briefed, hackers powered up their laptops, and plenty of coffee was circulating. We were treated to inspirational speakers that explained the issues of congestion and urban mobility in Cambridge today and the problems that we face with the current systems. How can we improve this for the future? There were warm up exercises and activities to get us talking to one another, to get the ideas flowing, and uniting us to work together to design novel solutions. 

The participating teams were encouraged to explore multiple ideas for the first few hours with the aim of focusing on the one that matched the criteria best as the day progressed. Prototyping and preparing for the pitching event followed the next day. 

The criteria the teams were judged by included knowledge of the problem that needs solving, the level of innovation involved in the solution, how technically and practically feasible the solution is, the scalability of the solution to other urban areas, and a clear understanding of who benefits. 

Expert speakers

Edward Leigh from smarter Cambridge  introduced Cambridge's transport challenges and Richard Wishart, Enterprise Architect, talked about moving people and goods not vehicles, while Colin Harris of Cambridge Connect presented on light rail. Lorenzo Casullo of OECD shared his poetic idea about transport policy "Transport Policy is a beautiful mix of facts and dreams. Know your facts, dream of your solutions, and come up with ideas", and Alessandra Gorini - Founder and Head of Youth for Public Transport, reminded us that our mission is to mix technology and humanity. You cannot forget about the people. 

Alessandra Gorini - Founder and Head of Youth for Public Transport (Y4PT)

Alessandra Gorini - Founder and Head of Youth for Public Transport (Y4PT)

Huge congratulations to the winning team: Team Ditch

The members of the winning team, Team Ditch. Photo by Emma Fletcher, MD of Smithson Hill, and one of the winning team's mentors along with Richard Wishart and Daniel Quinn.  

The members of the winning team, Team Ditch.

Photo by Emma Fletcher, MD of Smithson Hill, and one of the winning team's mentors along with Richard Wishart and Daniel Quinn.  

Juan Canavera-Herrera will be representing the team in Montreal. We caught up with him to ask how he felt about the event and his team's success. 

"This was my first hackathon experience and I must say it ended up much better than I thought: my team won! The two-day experience at the Cambridge Hack was very interesting as I came with no expectations, and at the end of the two days I did not only win the competition with the amazing idea my group developed but also won more insight into Cambridge and its transport problems, and very important as well, I won a lot of new friends and possible future partners like the Cycle.land mentors".

We wish the team every success in their futures and will be rooting for Juan at the Transport Hack in Montreal. Cycle.land was proud to be part of such an engaging and energised event with the brightest minds and experts in the industry.

The Cambridge Hack was organised by CUTEC, Impact Hub and DaweLabs and sponsored by Y4PT, Allia, AstraZenecaSerious Impact, Alchera Technologies, Cambridge Consultants and Cambridge Space.