Interdisciplinary teams of students of data technology, geoinformatics, and water and environmental technology focused in late January on finding solutions to challenges related to Finland's water reserves on a Water Hackathon course.
The winner was YourDayOut, an application of theToggle Muikkus group, which was the clear favourite of both the judges and the public. The app offers the users features including a way to find the nearest beach where water temperature, visibility, and the algae situation make it suitable for swimming.
The problems to be solved in the Hackathon were linked with matters such as the water situation, floods, water quality, catchment areas, and feedback from waterway users. The students had a selection of software and open data made available to them by the Finnish Environment Institute.
'At this point YourDayOut is only at the "proof of concept" stage and the aim was to indicate possibilities and to test some of the functions. The greatest challenge was the quite sparse network for measuring environmental information, so further development would require the inclusion of other sources of data. Perhaps progress could be made by combining municipal water quality measurements as well as crowdsourcing among users', ponders doctoral candidate Mika Jalava of Water and Environmental Engineering.
'Hackathon was a brilliant way of implementing a course. The close-knit whole made it easier to plan the use of time, and since it took place over a weekend, it also allowed real cooperation within the team, instead of having individual members make pieces which might take a surprisingly long time to combine', Jalava adds.
'For me the Hackathon's special benefit was that it allowed me to see how much it is possible to get done in a very short time when motivation is high and a skilled group is at work. I was also eager to let to know the programming tools used in the competition, which I believe will be useful to me in the future as well.'
A total of four groups took part in the Hackathon and all applications were of a high standard and won praise from the judges. Floodwatch, an application by the Hack Flood group, offers users the possibility to identify flood risk areas in roads, to report flood damage directly on a map, and to follow a flood situation in real time. Hydromap, an application by the G3 group, enables the user to monitor Finland's lakes and how their conditions have changed over the years with respect to water quality, temperature, and ice thickness. Bypass Visualizer by theVanda People group indicates the time that it takes for the concentration of waste water released past a treatment plant to decrease in a waterway network.
The winning Toggle Muikkus group included Mika Jalava as well as Matti Talja, Riku Laukkanen, Milla-Mari Vastavuo and Joona Laine.
The Water Hackathon course was organised by Aalto University, the Finnish Environment Institute, CGI, and Karttakeskus.
Professor Henrik Haggrén