Hackathon Copernicus — Bari 2019: Water is the new oil.

Massimo Zotti
Oct 17, 2019 · 10 min read

The Hackathon Copernicus — Bari 2019 was held over the weekend from 11 to 13 October: a 3-day non-stop event in which developers, web interface and mobile app designers, but also young innovators and journalists passionate about data analysis met to create innovative mobile applications, based on Copernicus data and services.

The Copernicus program, funded and coordinated by the European Commission, collects satellite images from different sources, including in-situ sensors, processes them and provides reliable and updated information mostly as Free and Open Datain in six thematic areas: land, sea, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management and security.

The Hackathon lasted three days. Over 100 people registered for a full-time study, brainstorming and work having the theme of Water at the center. The Hackathon objectives included the development of mobile application prototypes of Copernicus data and services for commercial use, responding to the needs of private and public users. In addition to learning how to use satellite Open Data and Copernicus services, the participants worked in teams and challenged each other to create innovative solutions and applications, in order to respond to the challenges proposed by some important stakeholders working with the Water every day.

The theme: Water

Theme of the Hackathon was The Water. As reported by “Water is the new oil”, a recent article of the Huffington Post:

“…Fresh water scarcity is a key reason why 3.5 billion people are projected to live in countries that cannot feed themselves by 2025. Earth’s freshwater ecosystems are critically depleted and being used unsustainably, reported the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, for today’s 6.5 billion population much less for the 9 billion we’ll be by 2050. Extreme droughts, floods, melting glaciers and other water cycle-related effects of global warming are why there’ll likely be 150 million global climate refugees within a decade. Diplomats warn that 21st century conflicts will be fought over water as they were for oil inthe 20th.”

The theme of The Water offered a number of ideas for application because it can be addressed as a resource to be preserved from an economic, environmental and social point of view. The Hackathon objectives included the development of mobile application prototypes of Copernicus data and services for commercial use, which respond to the needs of private and public users.

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The Challenges

A group of stakeholders selected by the hackaton organizers among public and private users presented their requirements and challenges beforehand. The participants, led by mentors from both the geospatial market and the start-ups ecosystem, proposed and developed disruptive ideas that exploit Copernicus resources to create applications, useful to meet the Hackathon challenges and to build sustainable business models. Participants were encouraged to organize themselves in multidisciplinary teams to present their ideas to a Selection Board, which consisted of authoritative representatives of the digital communication, the aerospace and the industrial Italian market.

The main challenges concerned the following areas:

  • Development of an irrigation management tool, which uses Earth Observation techniques from satellite to support farmers in irrigation planning and to suggest when and with how much water to irrigate.
    See the video.
  • Improvement of the efficiency of port facilities and the tourist experience of passengers, through the integration of earth observations with the port systems to rationalize passenger traffic.
    See the video.
  • Monitoring the erosion of the beaches, the strandings of Posidonia and the presence of jellyfish in the bathing areas, and supporting the control of water quality to the benefit of beaches and bathing.
    See the video.
  • Development of an innovative model capable of monitoring the water quality of surface water bodies, such as streams and rivers, to highlight the impacts of wastewater treatment plants, from industrial or zootechnical activities, and from the run-off of agricultural areas, of those livestock and also urban ones.
    See the video.
  • Improve the processing of aquaculture products by integrating all the information that comes through satellites and other tools, with information such as weather forecasts, sea conditions and other information complementary to these that can be useful for farm management.
    See the video.
  • Predictive analytics on water and sewage infrastructure monitoring, through artificial intelligence techniques that combine multiple datasources, to enable predictive maintenance of the network
  • Control of plastic pollution and marine litter in coastal areas according to the Apulian regional law referred to European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy
  • Optimization of irrigation following the transfer of waste water to the irrigation network

Training for Data Journalists

Andrea Nelson Mauro, data journalist and trainer

Copernicus represents today a new and still under-exploited source of data for fact-checking and investigative journalism in the environmental, social and economic field. For this reason a dedicated training course was dedicated to the communities of Italian data journalist.

The training was supported by the Association of Journalists and helped understand the availability of free and open Copernicus data and services, as a truthful, up-to-date and reliable information source.

Space for Women in Space

Web development, applications for satellite image processing, systems for space exploration and the analysis of spatial data, development of relations with space agencies and so on: jobs today covered by women in the Space and innovation market are growing more and more.

“We keep inclusion of minorities and the gender equality in great consideration. Showers and rooms will be available for there freshment and care of the person with the appropriate privacy, yoga classes will accompany the breakfast time in the morning, to better prepare the body and soul to resume the working activities. The experience of the Impact Hub in organizing coding activities for children and the proximity to the Planetarium, will also allow mothers to participate in the hackathon. The Planetarium is a center for scientific entertainment that organizes real live shows, both for adults and children, with astronomy movies and images projected on a full 3D dome. Women will be therefore invited to bring children with them, thus giving the opportunity to younger innovators to get closer to the Space and Earth observation.”
(Mariella Pappalepore, Chief Financial Officer and founder of Planetek Italia)

The video below shows all the women involved directly or indirectly in the organization of the Hackathon Copernicus — Bari 2019:

The teams and the Selection Board

The participants, organized in multidisciplinary teams, worked non-stop on the design of innovative solutions, in response to the challenges of the Hackathon, for over 48 hours. Some people even slept in sleeping bags without abandoning the ‘challenge field’.

Upon awakening they could stretch their muscles with Yoga sessions organized on the outdoor lawn of the Impact Hub, enjoying the warmth of the sunny autumn mornings in Bari.

Several Keynotes dictated the pace of the Hackathon, with speeches by experts in various technical or application domains, which provided suggestions on how to: build business models, transform ideas into business, access funding and incubation programs, as well as transform geospatial data into knowledge through machine learning algorithms and big data analysis tools.

Plenty of room was given to HERE Technologies, a leading company in digital maps and location services, focused on the concept of location and the potential it has to radically improve the way we do business, the way we get around and the way we live. As main sponsor of the Hackathon Copernicus — Bari 2019, HERE presented its services to support autonomous driving and the Internet of Things and the substantial set of tools for developers to build new applications and incorporate maps, geocoding services, routing, traffic data, positioning and more.

Upon completion of their work, the teams presented their ideas to the Selection Board, which consisted of authoritative representatives of the digital communication, the aerospace and the industrial Italian market:

The winning teams

The solutions created by the young participants, coming from all over Italy and Europe, resulting from 48 hours of intense work and evaluated by the Selection Board, had to respond to the need of developing business applications and services based on the open satellite data of the European Copernicus program.
The theme was “Water” and the participating teams had the opportunity to respond to the Challenges proposed by important national stakholders such as CIHEAM — Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari, Port Authority of the Southern Adriatic Sea, Italian Bathing Union, AQP — Apulian Aqueduct and AMA — Mediterranean Association of Aquaculture.

  • The winning team of the Hackathon Copernicus Bari 2019 is SYLI (“Shore you love it”). The winners were awarded € 2,000 and gained access to the Copernicus Accelerator, a one-year coaching scheme organized by the European Commission to help start-ups turn their business case into impactful commercial solutions. Syli will also have access to the Startup Challenge Camp, an initiative of the SPRINT program of The Hub Bari, aimed at selecting and supporting the development of business projects.
  • The Weter team took the second place, gaining access to the Copernicus Accelerator and the Startup Challenge Camp.
  • A special mention went to the APPesc team, made by young students from the Panetti technical institute of Bari, who won the special prize awarded by the Technological Aerospace Cluster of Apulia : a coaching path and opportunities to meet investors, to transform their idea into a successful business initiative.

Syli: how to find the right beach.

The winning solution Syli (“Shore you love it”) aims to create indicators on the attractiveness of European beaches, based on the environmental conditions of coastal waters and on the services offered by beach facility managers. This solution is based on the continuous processing of satellite data offered by Copernicus, and their integration with citizens’ crowdsourced data, to generate information useful to control the status of Italian and European beaches and coasts.

The winning team: Syli

Syli was created to respond to the challenges launched by the Italian Seaside Association, to counter the impact on the economy of the beaches caused by coastal erosion or the presence of jellyfish and algae; but also in response to the need expressed by the Port Authority of the southern Adriatic to improve the experience of tourists by exploiting satellite observations to offer tailor-made services to individual users.

Syli was born to respond to the challenges launched by the Italian Seaside Association, to counter the impact on the beaches economy caused by coastal erosion or by the presence of jellyfish and algae. Syli meets the need expressed by the Port Authority of the Southern Adriatic Sea as well, by improving the experience of tourists by exploiting satellite observations to offer tailor-made services to individual users. Finally, Syli responds to the demand of Acquedotto Pugliese (the Apulian water and sewer management company) to exploit Copernicus to support the analysis of surface water bodies and bathing waters, both in terms of quality and quantity.

Weter, sustainable reuse of vegetation waters

The Weter solution, ranked second, aims to optimize irrigation processes in agriculture by exploiting vegetation waste water.

The Weter team with Giovanni Sylos Labini

The challenge was that launched by the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute — CHIEAM to support irrigation and agricultural practices with satellite surveys; still the Acquedotto Pugliese asked to use the satellite information provided by Copernicus to highlight and reduce the impacts of industrial and zootechnical activities, both on the purification activities carried out by Acquedotto Pugliese and on the quality of coastal marine waters. Weter responds by reducing the environmental impact on the areas affected by the use of vegetation water and fertilizers.

Special DTA Award: APPesc

The Apulian Aerospace District (DTA) promotes inclusion and opportunities for young people, in line with the “Education” objective of the SDG strategy of the United Nations. For this reason, DTA will offer its coaching support and opportunities to meet with investors for the team of 5 young students of the Panetti Institute. Their solution, called APPesc, responds to the suggestions offered by the challenge launched by the Mediterranean Association of Aquaculture. APPesc aims to support tourist and sport fishing by offering users satellite-derived information on the areas with the greatest fishiness.

The APPesc team with members of the Selection Board and mentors

Students will also take advantage of the coaching offered by Cesare de Palma, President of the Mechatronics Section of Confindustria Bari, to transform their idea into a successful business initiative.

The organizers

Organized by Planetek Italia with the local support of The Hub and the onData association, the Hackathon Copernicus-Bari 2019 is part of SPRINT, a dynamic development path aimed at building a virtuous and concrete connection between innovative companies, training and labour market. SPRINT is coordinated by Impact Hub Bari through a direction board with Planetek Italia and other partner companies.

Impact HUB Bari

The Hackathon took place within the 300 square meter area dedicated to events by Impact Hub: a large coworking space for the social innovation in Bari.

Useful links

All the information about the schedule, the theme, the challenges, organizers and partners of the initiative, members of the Selection Board and mentors, as well as the training materials are available at the link: https://hackcopernicus.planetek.it

Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/search?q=hackcopernicusbari

Originally published in Italian at https://blog.planetek.it on October 17, 2019.

Massimo Zotti

Written by

#satellites, #geospatial technology, #internet, @planetek and #open knowledge

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