Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) has recently organized a hackathon for further improving their Journey Planner. The hackathon featured 9 teams with very different approaches to solving the given task. The winning project targets customers from different special needs groups (e.g. visually impaired), as well as children and the elderly.

The hackathon was supported by HSL’s partners: Liikennevirasto, Helsinki Think Company, CGI, Netlight, Nitor, Palmu and Visma. We’ve visited the hackathon and interviewed some of the participants about their projects and the problems they were trying to solve with their ideas. The event was positively evaluated by all the interviewed participants. They claimed that the organizers were very helpful and the teams enjoyed spending time together and working on their project in a friendly and dynamic environment.

Team “STOP 2.0”

Henna Kalliokoski, a member of the winning team “STOP 2.0” describes their idea: “The main purpose of “STOP 2.0” is to allow the traveler to inform the driver about their wish to stop the bus. The application uses small iBeacon Bluetooth transmitters for location. Both the buses and the stops have iBeacon transmitters, so the user is able to identify the beacon and ask the driver to stop at the right place: either from the bus stop for the approaching vehicle or from inside the bus. “STOP 2.0” makes use of the new driver’s devices of Helsinki Region Transport. The driver’s device is a computer that supplies real-time information about the traffic and locations of the other vehicles on the same route. “STOP 2.0” is integrated into the driver’s device to notify the driver about the need to stop at a certain bus stop.

The idea came from one of our team members Ronja Oja. We all wanted to do something that actually benefits people, and she had this problem with public transportation because she is blind. We also considered a couple of other ideas, but this one provided the most additional value for the effort and investment it would require. The existing public transport doesn’t pay enough attention to different special needs groups such as the visually impaired, children or the elderly. We want Helsinki to be the city where the people can use public transport smoothly regardless of age or capability.”
Team members: Pihla Toivanen, Tintti Rahikainen, Ronja Oja and Jenny Tyrväinen. All the team members are computer science students living in the capital area.

Team "Gaidi"
Team “Gaidi”

Miranda Kastemaa from team “Gaidi” presents their fun experiment: “Our project is an experiment in generative art that transforms real-time tram location data into a spooky audiovisual experience. Trams are represented by skeletons jumping around in a desolate world, consisting of drum machine pads that trigger different sounds. Being passionate about graphics and audio programming, it seemed like the obvious thing to do when I heard about the real-time location API offered by HSL. We started out with some basic wireframe cubes moving around, and the finer details of the concept emerged over the weekend. The skeleton theme may have been inspired by Skull Trumpet and Dark Souls.

We wanted to bring something a bit different to the event with a more aesthetics-oriented project. Judging from the response we got, I think we succeeded!”

Team members: Miranda Kastemaa, software engineer and electronic musician, and Wolf Wikgren, master’s student at Aalto ARTS and web developer.

Team "Just in Time!"
Team “Just in Time!”

Team “Just in time!” created an app, aimed at saving commute time for the users. Rashmi Kasat tells: “Our app uses traveler’s personal history data of commute (usual starting point, usual destination, usual schedule etc.) and combines it with the real-time transport data to create personalized alerts for the user. It notifies the user of the precise time they need to leave for their stop, so that they are at the stop just in time (not too early and not too late). The user is also notified if he/she misses the bus, or there are disruptions on the desired route and proposes the time they should leave for the next bus.

The idea originated from the fact that several times I have had to spend a long time waiting for the bus when I missed the bus by a couple of minutes, sometimes even seconds, or when the bus is cancelled or delayed. In the winters particularly this is very tiring. I wanted to have this kind of notifications personalized to my behavioral pattern taking into account e.g. number of steps from starting point until the stop, wait time in the elevators, some other time delay etc. I also wanted to have a notification if I had a high likelihood to miss the bus based on the lead time calculated from above data.”

Team members: Rashmi Kasat, Director and Head of Digital Services Practice at Capgemni, and Mika Majakorpi. Senior Software Architect at Nitor.

Team "Tram Challenge"
Team “Tram Challenge”

Team “Tram Challenge” created a fun project to help citizens explore the city. Stephen Sykes explains: “The goal of the Tram Challenge is to visit all the tram stops on the Helsinki tram system as quickly as possible. It was inspired by the London Tube Challenge, and also the desire to get people exploring Helsinki and making full use of public transport. We thought it would make a fun day out this summer. You can register and time your attempt, get tram line and stop information, and you can track the trams as they move around so you can optimize your route. Using the TramChallenge app will be the only way to get onto the official leaderboard.”

Team members: Stephen Sykes, Matias Korhonen, Joao Cardoso, Krister Kari.