Last weekend, Scriptr.io sponsored the New Haven Hackathon! It was an event produced alongside the New Haven Parking Authority and held on the 2nd floor balcony overlooking New Haven’s historic Union Station, so the apps, data, and hacks were naturally all transit-centric. Why transit in New Haven, you might ask? New Haven is the second most populous city in the state of CT and one of the oldest cities in the country, so it has naturally gone through a lot of changes over the course of its history, and especially in the past few decades. It’s transit system, however, isn’t necessarily as adaptable as other parts of its infrastructure. Usage of bike lanes, for example, is booming year over year, but therefore comes into conflict with auto traffic patterns. This event aimed to apply some local brainpower to come up with creative, cost-effective enhancements using the Internet of Things.
— Ed Borden (@edborden) October 15, 2016
Top 3 Applications of Scriptr at New Haven Hackathon
Realtime ‘location cleaning’
One team decided to crowdsource bus location information using ‘sightings’ generated from an Android application. Since the ‘sightings’ were using the phone’s GPS, the team wanted a way to ‘snap’ the phone’s location onto the street to represent the path of the bus. They decided to use the Google Maps Roads API, which is normally used for snapping a path to a street, not a single point. However, using Scriptr’s local storage, they were able to cache the last known location of the bus and use it to create an ad hoc path.
This is a common need at hackathons: ‘We want to quickly map our assets’. Many times hacks are largely infrastructure or hardware-centric, and mapping them at least provides a visual to ‘make it real’ for the demos. Scriptr has a great solution for this! Our ‘Geoservices’ repo is a template with everything you need to wire up a data feed to a simple Google map and update it in real time. This serves as a great way to get started developing with Scriptr as well, as you’ll quickly grasp the basic concepts of the platform as you’re setting this up. Be sure to check it out!
Pitney Bowes Location Intelligence mashup engine
Pitney Bowes was another sponsor at the event talking about their ‘Location Intelligence’ API’s. Teams were using these services for adding metadata and other information to locations they were displaying. Whether that information was going onto Scriptr-generated maps or into Scriptr-generated API endpoints for access in other applications, making the integration with Pitney Bowes’ services was a popular (and easy) task and was part of all projects at the event.
Top 3 Hardware Integrations with Scriptr at New Haven Hackathon
EnOcean sub-ghz modem
One project created a concept for a mesh network that broadcasts public notifications from the city. The notifications are broadcast via short-range bluetooth, but the mesh is held together by a local wide area network. The concept would be a boon in emergency situations and during power outages and was demonstrated using this 902mhz radio by EnOcean, which is super low power and long range. It was integrated into a Raspberry Pi for the prototype as a gateway to the Internet and Scriptr, which was their management system and frontend.
The team that built the crowdsourced bus tracking system mentioned above envisioned the bus identification system to be driven by cheap Bluetooth beacon pucks, which could be cheaply mounted on the buses. Then, riders and people waiting for the buses at stops would connect to those beacons via an Android app. That was enough of a scope to tackle for this short of an event, and it was great for the team to be able to quickly spin up the backend services via Scriptr so that Android app could feed data into a mapping system that anyone could view for the demo.
Really Big Sign (close, but not quite)
Everyone loves the prospect of being able to control their own jumbotron — and the New Haven DOT delivered when they gave everyone the chance to do just that. While the integration was never quite completed, lots of ideas were floated of how the Really Big Sign could be used for transit enhancements, the best of which was a system for notifying cars that bikers were present in the upcoming intersection. Unfortunately, none of the ideas quite made it into production. Next time!
— EduBrainStorm (@J10_01B) October 16, 2016
Top 3 Strategies Employed by Winning Teams at New Haven Hackathon
Whatever you do at a hackathon, it needs to have a visual to make an impression! Even better if that visual is something the audience for your demo can play with themselves. So, go live, and have a publicly accessible application, even if it is simple.
Nobody’s got time for DevOps at a hackathon. And this is really a very true proxy for a real application, since no startup has time for DevOps either. So, go services-heavy and write application code not deployment scripts!
Don’t eat all the pizza!
Pizza is heaven, yes, but if you eat it for every meal, you will suffer in more ways than one. You’ve been warned.
— Ed Borden (@edborden) October 16, 2016