36 hours of suspense: 70 students from three countries worked together at the Smart City Hackathon

Wed, 9 Jun 2021 | e-commerce, computer science, business information systems, master's studies, faculty
Urban planning as an important aspect for shaping community life: urban economy, safety and inclusion are among the topics of the future

Life in the city of tomorrow—almost 70 students from three countries worked on this topic for 36 hours as part of a hackathon. At this collaborative software and hardware development and design thinking event, they developed solutions for a better and safer community life that is accessible to all. The 14 international and interdisciplinary teams consisted of students from Bangkok, Thailand (King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, KMITL), from Nanjing, China (Nanjing Tech University Pujiang Institute, NJPJI), and from the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

Dr Georg Verweyen, Director of the Information Centre of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in Bangkok, pointed out in his welcoming address that urban planning was an important factor in shaping social communities—its building blocks included urban economy, security, and the inclusion of all population groups. Three companies had submitted challenges in advance for which the teams were to find solutions. Ideas and innovations were requested on the following three topics:

  • Digital in Style: Re-Opening Businesses during the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Creating Smarter Life in Public Spaces
  • Inclusivity/Urban City

An important German word: ‘Kaffeepause’

The students had a 36-hour time frame to work on solutions and to later present them to the jurors, the companies and the other participants. In two minutes, they showed the possibilities they had been developing, followed by a three-minute long round of questions.

All the students in Asia had quickly learned one German word during the competition: ‘Kaffeepause’ (‘coffee break’). The students would have liked to spend their coffee breaks and work phases together in person, but this was not possible due to the pandemic. Instead, the entire event was held online. The pandemic not only played a role in the organisation and implementation of the hackathon, but also offered itself as a problem for the participants to deal with. Thus, the hackers of the first topic ‘Re-Opening Businesses during the COVID-19 Pandemic’ developed, among other things, their own app proposals and recommended actions that contribute to the re-opening of gastronomy, trade and tourism and are in this way able to promote economic recovery.

Other teams dealt with the second aspect—smart, safe living in public spaces: How can large gatherings of people be avoided during a pandemic, how can sensor data be optimally transmitted?
The students working on the third challenge looked at the difficulties people with disabilities face in everyday life: for example, the user-friendliness of public transport systems or the collection and analysis of data on the population distribution of people with disabilities to improve urban planning accordingly.

The hackathon ‘Design the City of Tomorrow’ was initiated by the Faculty of Computer Science and Business Information Systems at FHWS.

At the end of the work marathon, the participants were rewarded with prizes: three from the participating companies, a Grand Prize for the best overall solution, which Team 5 won, and an audience prize chosen by the participants themselves.

For further information, please refer to Smart City Hackathon.


Author: FHWS, Katja Bolza-Schünemann
Translation: FHWS, Larissa Schröter