Smart Sustainable City Hack, a hackathon supported by Russian Ministry of Construction and VEB.RF, took place in Moscow from May 31 to June 2. In mere 48 hours teams of young developers created solutions in key areas of the federal project “Smart City”, which will facilitate the development of renewable energy in Russia, help to optimize urban transportation and integrate various data for decision making in smart cities. The best teams won monetary prizes, opportunity to present their projects to VEB.RF top management and implement their solutions in the member cities of “Smart City” program, including Volgograd, Derbent and Kaliningrad.
From 31 May to 2 June in GrowUp coworking in Moscow the offline stage of Smart Sustainable City Hack took place. It became the first hackathon in Russia aimed to develop solutions for smart sustainable cities in 3 areas of the federal project “Smart City” — smart energy, smart transport and city management. In the final 12 teams competed for the victory and prizes from strategic partners: VEF.RF, NP Market Council, international companies Fortum and EDF.
In 48 hours participants developed innovative solutions for verification of green energy and issuance of green certificates on blockchain, optimization of urban traffic and fuel consumption using ML algorithms, as well as integration, management analysis of data from multiple urban systems.
Winners of each track received 100,000 rubles and opportunity to develop projects in the accelerator of Evercity, the organizer of the hackathon. Denis Unzhakov, vice-president of VEB.RF, invited the winners to take part in a business breakfast and a pitch session at VEB.RF.
The Russian Ministry of Construction noted that the most valuable effect of hackathons is the collaboration between developers of tech solutions and public authorities from the regions and municipalities of the Russian Federation:
“One of the goals of Smart City project is to create comfortable conditions for life and work in Russian cities. Each region of the country has strong specialists, young entrepreneurs and developers, who are ready to react to the needs of the regions. It is very important to establish this collaboration”.
Blockchain for integration and automation of data collection in urban systems
Competitors in the joint track of Russian Ministry of Construction, VEB.RF and Evercity solved the problem of Integration of data flows from IoT devices and various GIS systems for monitoring and decision making in smart city. AlphaOpen company gave technical support for the teams providing data from its platform for smart buildings. The winner of the track, team KORUM, presented a solution for automating data collection from heat and electricity meters with application of IoT devices and data processing in distributed ledgers Substrate and IPFS.
Elena Stepanova, senior managing director in “VEB.Infrastructure” commented on the choice:
“From the point of view of infrastructure, team KORUM presented the most complete solution for integration, management and analysis of data from multiple urban systems. However, modern smart city is not just a municipality with well-developed technical infrastructure. It is a place where a human life gets a new quality because of smart decisions. This is why I also want to point out the solutions of teams Absolute and Mar(s)ginali that are aimed at attaining Sustainable Development Goals.”
Implementation of green certificates system for renewable energy
In “smart energy” track from Fortum, the leading Russian company in the field of sustainable and clean energy and NP Market Council teams developed a blockchain-based system for issuance and circulation of “green certificates” (documents that validate electricity generation from renewable energy resources) using real data provided by Market Council.
Oleg Barkin, deputy chairman of the board of NP “Market Council” spoke about the importance and prospects of this task in Russia:
“Green certificates mechanism is already being actively used around the world, the circulation of these documents is constantly growing. However, there are not so many complete solutions on blockchain yet”.
The solution of “Mar(s)ginali” team was acknowledged to be the most comprehensive for green certificates issuance. Its main feature was two-level verification of green energy generation, which made falsification unprofitable for the generator. The participants chose Ethereum blockchain for underlying infrastructure, as it allows to trade certificates at minimal cost.
Anatoly Trukhin, director of center for markets analysis at Fortum PJSC noted that the choice was hard:
“We were astonished that many teams presented real solutions of a very high level, that could already be implemented today”.
AI for transportation and air quality
EDF, world leader in the production of low carbon electricity, has assigned the participants the task to optimize transport infrastructure in the city taking into account ecological data.
Aerostate, tech partner of the track, has provided the participants with API of their platform for monitoring and forecasting air quality. The winning team Airforce has applied machine learning algorithms to recognize vehicles, note their speed and manage traffic lights in order to optimize traffic and reduce fuel use.
Gonzague Flutsch, manager of Smart City project at EDF underlined the importance of the task:
“We aim to fulfil our obligations under Paris agreement to reduce GHG emissions and overall level of pollution in the cities. Transportation is one of the major sources of pollution in the cities, that’s why optimization of traffic will have significant positive impact on air quality”.
Smart Sustainable City Hack — springboard for innovative projects
During online and offline stage of the hackathon partners and mentors gave a series of webinars and lectures. Participants learnt about Substrate framework from Parity Technologies, architecture of solutions for smart city on Robonomics, Solidity, green certificates and green transport etc. Hackathon became an educational platform not only for participants, but also for representatives of state bodies and municipalities. The event was also attended by representatives of Japan External Trade Organization and other international organizations interested in innovative Russian projects.
Technical and educational partners — namely, Sergey Lonshakov, leader of Airalab, and Yury Yartsev, the founder of RUSSOL startup school — also announced their favorite teams and awarded them with special prizes.
“Developing smart sustainable cities is not only about searching for cool promising technologies”, Sergey Lonshakov noted while presenting special editions of books to the participants. “Don’t forget to read such books as “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip Dick and other sci-fi books. Because you are creating worlds, you are building the future.”
Evercity ecosystem pays a lot of attention to compliance with sustainable development standards. That’s why “smart bin” that compresses rubbish using solar energy was installed at the venue. Moreover, paper waste was minimized — only speakers and partners received badges, and the program was only available online. The menu included a choice of vegetarian meals and healthy food.
Hackathon organizer Evercity is ready to continue communication with the participants, to assist the teams in completing their solutions, as well as to implement them in the regions of Russia. Also, there is a plan for piloting projects and educating local developers in every region.
Alexey Shadrin, CEO of Evercity: “We select the cutting-edge technological solutions that fit the requirements of the project for urban digitalization “Smart City” and the program “Digital economy of Russian Federation”. Each region has its own talents that understand its local specifics better. Our task is to help them realize their full potential, create and revive the innovative ecosystem in the regions. Our country has very talented young people, highly valued abroad — they are the future of Russia”.
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