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Organizing a Hackathon @ UC Berkeley: Day D …. (Part 3 of 3)

The day before the starting of the Hackathon, we were making sure that the infrastructure was in place in the open space at CITRIS main floor, installing socket extensions, checking the items received, adjusting security access to premises for the organizing team and volunteers, checking T-Shirts sizes, avaialble drinks (Coke, Soda and Red Bull ), energy bars and cookies to keep participants energy up, buckets for ice, water deposit, etc…. we also opened one of InWatchZ boxes and played with it a little bit.

Everything was ready for Day D…..

We had 93 registrations…. but only some 30 participants showed up and officially checked in on February 20th from 18:30. Some started working until 22:30 , closing time for the first day.

All the volunteers were there, Luke organized the presence slot so that there were always a couple of volunteers present. InWatch USA staff arrived and officially opened the Hackathon. Pizza dinner was available as well as snacks and drinks for the participants from 19:00. The tradition was respected: “eating while hacking” …… 😉

Every team had to check-in at the volunteers desk to get a Smartwatch for hacking. It was important to keep track of them , not only for security reasons but also because some teams might have decide to hack the OS or install their own code and they would need to continue working on it the next day.

One of the teams did not manage to find the options in the API to change language from Chinese to English for some parts of the software and hesitated to come back the next day. They did not show up anymore…

The next day we started at 9:00; bagels and coffee were available with a good variety of flavoured spread. Good energy to start…. teams were checking in slowly , some decided to start working from home. Very soon some teams had already some parts of their design on the whiteboards and some pseudo-code was taking shape… a couple of teams requested additional Smartwatches, I understood why when they presented the solution the next day. One of the teams that had checked in the day before but could not stay, came back in the morning but dropped out after lunch… they started too late and realized that they would not be able to deliver anything consistent.

We were wondering why we did not have more participants showing up until we discovered that, at the same time, there was a very big Hackathon organized by the University of Stanford and later during the day we discovered that Code for America had organized at the same time CodeAcross 2015, a series of “civic hacking events” hosted by nodes of Code for America network around the world. It coincided with the International Open Data Day. The theme of CodeAcross 2015 was “Principles for 21st Century Government”.

I will come back with more about Code for America, the brigades, the fellows ,etc in a future post.

As I said above, those events must have certainly impacted the number of teams that participated; it is not normal that only a little bit more that 1/3 of participants checked in. According to Alic and Luke,statistically, the attrition percentage is around 35%.

Lunch and dinner were available, typical burritos, tortilla chips with different spicy sauces were served for lunch and Chinese food was served for dinner… more “eating while hacking”….

Teams were working hard and as we turned around the tables the solutions were taking shape…

We closed the second day at 22:00.

Next day we started at 9:00 again. The events in Cordoba, Granada and Barcelona had finished and the winners were already known:

“Pillow 112” an application for InWatch that activates an emergency protocol giving automatic response in case of situations of violence was the winner in Granada.

‘Saveme’, an application for assistance in emergencies and Help-App was the winner in Cordoba and an application for tracking and tracing medical emergencies, which was the winner in Barcelona.

In Berkeley, teams were asked to check-in their solutions just after lunch. Only six teams finally checked-in.

Every team had 10 min to present their solution, followed by questions by the panel. The evaluation criteria were as follows

1.Technical complexity

2..User experience

3.User Interface design

4.Degree of innovation


6.Meeting the hackathon objectives

7.Quality of the presentation

After all the presentations, the panel unanimously awarded the first prize to “inTime”.

inTime is an app for Smartwatches that notifies users when to leave for their next destination based on their calendar. The app uses GPS, pedometer, and barometric sensors to pinpoint where users are and how fast they walk from destination to destination. inTime incorporates multiple modes of transportation such as walking, driving, public transit, and Uber. User data is collected to identify quicker routes that Google Maps cannot provide as well as map out campuses, office buildings, and more.

The team will go to Barcelona to compete in the Global #CapmpusInwatch Hackathon Final with the winners from Granada, Córdoba and Barcelona.

Sending the winning team members to Barcelona is being quite an adventure….all kind of issues: passports missing, different origins, destinations and dates, changes in dates after the ticket has been issued, etc… I will sleep well when they arrive in Barcelona and even better when they will be back in Berkeley…

The next post will be after the final that will take place at the same time as the Mobile World Congress from March 2nd to March 4th.

Stay tuned and ….. Let the best team win !!!








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