Hackathon begins the search for new hi-tech road safety ideas


A NZ Transport Agency Hackathon is under way in Auckland tonight to find new and creative hi-tech ideas to save lives on our roads.

The 48-hour event brings together volunteers with diverse skills, interests and perspectives to solve problems in a competitive, time-pressured environment.

15 teams have formed and have until Sunday afternoon to work up and present their concept to a judging panel.

120 people signed up for the Hackathon on a first-in first served basis, with about 90 more on a waiting list. They include developers, tech experts and people with engineering or transport backgrounds. Some just have a personal motivation for improving road safety.

“We are in for a really exciting time as we engage with everyday transport users who are also really smart thinkers and technology innovators. There is no limit to what they might come up with,” says the Transport Agency’s Safety and Environment Director Harry Wilson.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three concepts, but the Transport Agency reserves the right to work with any of the teams to help them develop their ideas to the next stage.

The teams will retain the intellectual property of their ideas, with the Transport Agency helping to market their work in the interests of road safety. The Transport Agency will be asking the teams to keep its “Safe System” approach front of mind as they build their solutions. The Safe System approach aims for a more forgiving road system that takes human fallibility and vulnerability into account.

“We can help with resources and by introducing them to others in the innovation and technology communities. We may be able to offer financial support to help develop a prototype or take the idea to the next level,” says Mr Wilson.

“We don’t know what we’ll get and we’re open to all ideas, but we’re looking for problem solving with a clear focus on the outcome – preventing crashes and saving lives.”

“The Hackathon’s theme is “Save One More Life”. Last year 379 people died on our roads, and every one of those lives lost is a tragedy. We’re looking for new ways to make our roads safer and improve driver behaviour.”

“It’s about unleashing the potential of technology to reduce the road toll,” says Mr Wilson.

The Hackathon has some heavyweight technology companies offering their support and resources to the teams over the weekend, including Microsoft, Google Cloud, IBM, Uber and Consegna Cloud.

The Hackathon is based at the Transport Agency’s Innovation Centre at 105 Cook Street in Auckland.

The teams have 10 minutes each on Sunday afternoon to present their concepts to the judges, starting at 1pm.

More information about the Hackathon(external link)

More info about the safe system here. (external link)