Tool for monitoring illegal logging wins climate hackathon

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Team "Forest Watch" wins 3500eur for their forest monitoring app via satellite. They move on to the creative camp organized by “Copernicus Accelerator” in Marseilles, France, on 2-3 December.

24 hours without sleep, 10 solutions - the result of the international 24-hour hackathon “Copernicus Hackathon and Climathon Riga 2018”, which due to its link to climate was named as climathon.  Two teams received both a cash prize and an opportunity to continue working on their ideas under the guidance of professional mentors.

“Copernicus Hackathon and Climathon” is an international initiative taking place around the world, generating thousands of satellite-based ideas and practical solutions to climate-related problems in different parts of the world.  This year, 10 ideas were submitted to the hackathon in Riga, organized by Riga Technical University. Three teams worked on developing their ideas, while the other seven tackled one of the problems submitted by five Latvian municipalities.

A brief summary of the 24 hours:

  • Team A – comprised of the employees of the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre; they created an algorithm for an interactive tool. It would enable to determine the energy efficiency of buildings, and which are the first, for example, to require insulation. Team members emphasize that the energy efficiency is affected by various factors, which are currently not considered. For example, only one side of the building is constantly in the sun or the shade. Accordingly, the energy efficiency varies. The team also believes that it is possible to predict future scenarios depending on expected climate change.
  • Salcgrīva1 - the team worked with a problem submitted by Salacgrīva Municipality; the problem is coastal erosion resulting in the loss of territory and access to the shore. They proposed a tool that will collect various existing data on the projected impact of erosion on the coastal zone. Accordingly, this tool will allow the municipality to make decisions about the development of the coastal zone.
  • Valmiera2 - the task was to plan traffic flow in Valmiera city.  The team offered to collect existing data and to control the flow of people by tracking mobile phones. However, in order to monitor the flow of cars, the city could use the existing CCTV cameras or to reinstall them in certain places.  This information could be included in the Valmiera data portal, which would, also, be accessible to entrepreneurs in order to manage their business development more effectively.
  • Ogre - ice detection and flood alert detection platform. The team identified the main task: in autumn, to determine the places where there will be the likeliest congestion of ice during the spring season. In order to track it, the whole river basin, which varies from year to year, should be monitored.  However, as a result of these actions, it would be possible to create an early notification system to inform citizens about the potential flood threat to their property.
  • Valmiera1 - the team worked on the same problem submitted by Valmiera municipality. It identified a lack of real data, which does not allow optimizing urban infrastructure.  The team proposed to equip traffic lights with computer vision to monitor vehicles crossing intersections and determine their routes.  In addition, the mobile app of Valmiera city would display the real traffic flow.
  • “ForestWatch” - the team addressed the issue concerning forest owners and created a solution for monitoring and warning about illegal logging.  The platform will use satellite data and warn landowners about a significant loss of forest area. Upon the landowner’s request and for an additional fee, a drone can be sent to this area to find out the real situation.
  • “Duster” - the team worked on the task submitted by Liepāja municipality that wants to reduce the dust created by bulk cargos.  In Port of Liepāja, the volume of bulk cargo is increasing, thus there is more work reloading the cargo and the result is an increasing amount of dust entering the city. If the wind goes above 10 m/s, the work at the port must be halted; it is not a desirable solution and significantly affects the financial performance. Team’s solution - a wind wall that will protect the city from dust and, if plants are planted on the wall, it will produce oxygen. The team also proposed a possibility of the wall producing electricity by wind power in the future.
  • “ReaShore” - another solution to the problem raised by Salacgrīva municipality. Similar to the first team, they offered an analysis based on existing data in their first stage. In stage 2, specialists would be recruited to help interpret the data and to predict future developments.
  • Jelgava - the representatives of the city wanted the hackathon members to reduce the flow of transit traffic. In other words, the flow of transport should be diverted from the city centre to the bypass. The team proposed to build an ecobonus system that diverts drivers to the “green route”. When a driver registers a ride in the app, he receives bonus points that can be later exchanged for various benefits from local traders or local authorities.
  • Every day, the team of the company “C.T.Co” uses machine learning but has never participated in a project concerning climate change.  Therefore, over the course of 24 hours the team had to find out how machine learning could be used in climate forecasting, which would be useful to insurance companies.  Conclusion - a large amount of various data sets is needed to make precise predictions and would help them in their everyday work.

Team “Duster” received the 2nd place and an opportunity to further develop their idea in the program “Climate-KIC Greenhouse” under the supervision of professional business mentors. Team members: Ieva Kaļinova, Pēteris Pētersons, Linda Zeibote, Jānis Āboltiņš, Nils Bērziņš, Kristaps Makovskis.

However, the 1st place went to the team “ForestWatch”. They received a 3500 Euro cash prize, a chance to go to the creative camp organized by “Copernicus Accelerator” in Marseilles, France, on 2-3 December, and they will be able to further develop their idea in the program “Copernicus Accelerator” under the supervision of professional business mentors. Team “ForestWatch” members: Ieva Immure, Līga Pakalna un Dāvis Immurs.