22 Apr 2019 Ideathon Experience Recap
Video by Orion Creative
This year’s Ideathon kicked off Fiesta along with other activities in the Geekdom Event Centre! We had students from UTSA, TAMUSA, Trinity, and more attempt to create creative and achievable solutions for smart city challenges.
As we kicked off the event, our keynote speaker was City Councilman Manny Pelaez! He expressed how honored he was to be amongst the brightest of minds that evening. He inspired our participants to really dig deep and find creative solutions that can really help San Antonio.
Friday night consisted of mentors owning challenges ranging from sustainability to mobility to access to services. Each mentor had exactly one minute to pitch their challenge and reel in the interest of students to be on their team. The students then self-selected their team by selecting the top challenge that they wanted to work on. Once selected, the teams were formed and began to ideate solutions with quality industry mentors.
How do we keep San Antonio’s downtown accessible to all ages and abilities, not just our roads and sidewalks, but also our digital infrastructure like our kiosks?
How can we illuminate our city to increase safety, but also visibility of events and activities downtown?
How would you reduce power outages in San Antonio using an equity lens?
Scooters are everywhere. How do we keep drivers, pedestrians and scooter riders safe and able to share the road?
What kinds of data are important to collect transportation systems in our city? How can we collect that data securely and transparently?
The following day, students gathered with their teams to work on a lean canvas with their mentors and identify existing technologies, alternatives, benefits, and solutions. Each mentor played to their strengths while providing great insights on city procedures. The teams had a truly one-on-one experience with their mentors and gained exceptional knowledge of their challenges.
The teams narrowed down their solutions and proceeded to work on their presentations. Whataburger fueled everyone participating on Saturday with their generous donation. After being energized from delicious chicken tenders and cookies, the teams worked on their presentations skills. The competition only allowed for five-minute presentations from the teams on their solutions. Each team presented their solutions to a panel of judges from San Antonio’s tech community and municipalities.
Not only did every team bring their best, but one team member from each group were highlighted for their efforts of being a champion amongst their peers. We awarded these MVPs with Starbucks gift cards and then awarded the winners of the competition.
Hunter Kim from UTSA & Harry Staley from TAMUSA were awarded 1st place with their power outages solution. R.E.A.P. stands for Reliable Equitable Affordable Power. Their solution for reducing power outages in communities by having a shared community bank of power and gamifying power usage amongst neighbors. This collaborative effort between the city and community members would save consumers money as well as give city utilities more control of resources.
David Velez and Artem Skitenko, both from TAMUSA were awarded 2nd place as they devised a strategy for scooter safety throughout San Antonio. Each scooter company would need to implement standardized equipment to help with navigation and speed throttling in highly congested areas. With the navigation, there would be safer routes for scooter riders to take along with keeping pedestrians on the sidewalks safe as well. There would also be indicators of safe parking spots for scooters’ drop off/pick up location instead of being docked anywhere on the streets.
Carlos Valdes from Academy of Art University and Victoria Lopez from SAC were awarded 3rd place with their solution on how to increase safety by illuminating Downtown San Antonio. The idea is to integrate RGB lights on the curbs in order to provide directional lighting with the ability to change color to redirect and improve traffic.
Each team that participated brought amazing ideas to the table and were provided great feedback from the judges. The mentors partnered with their teams are hoping to bring these achievable solutions back with them to their organizations with the hopes of being implemented in some way.
If Ideathon sounds like your kind of event, be on the lookout for our next one! If CivTechSA sounds like a program that you and your class should be part of, contact us!