Uniting space technologies, developers and ideas

Published: 
21 November 2017
The SpaceTech2017 Integrated Applications Hackathon brought together 122 developers, engineers, data scientists, designers and marketers from 23 different.

The SpaceTech2017 Hackathon, part of Estonian Space Week, challenged hardware and software developers to utilise the synergies between Galileo and Copernicus to create innovative applications.

Although Galileo and Copernicus serve different functions – with Galileo being a GNSS system and Copernicus an Earth Observation system – there are a number of important synergies between the two. The challenge, however, is developing innovative applications that make full use of these synergies – which was the exact challenge presented to the teams competing at the SpaceTech2017 Hackathon in Tartu, Estonia.

“The idea behind the Hackathon is to bring together software and hardware developers and provide them the opportunity to combine the unprecedented volume of data made available by Galileo and Copernicus,” says Paul Liias, Expert in Space Technologies at the Economic Development Department of Estonia’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, who hosted the event as part of European Space Week.

Organised by Estonian event planning company Garage48 and with the support of the GSA and the European Space Agency (ESA), the hackathon brought together 122 developers, engineers, data scientists, designers and marketers from 23 different countries – including India, the Middle East, Europe and the US. The ESA provided participants with an API containing access to Copernicus data, while the GSA provided Galileo-enabled hardware featuring GNSS raw measurements, and access to a set of location APIs through Here Technologies - its partner for the event.

“We were happy to be able to bring together the GSA and ESA – two of the biggest players in space technology – to one hackathon,” says Garage48’s Kai Isand. “As a result, participants not only had access to Galileo and Copernicus data, but also top-notch mentors from each organisation who supported the teams during the event.”

Winning ideas

Each team was challenged to come up with exciting ideas using different elements from different streams to create integrated solutions – all within just 48 hours. Applications were judged based on their level of innovation and creativity, use of space technology and data, level of teamwork, business potential and vision for the future.

The winner of the GSA prize, which was awarded to Location Based Services (LBS) and Geo-IoT applications, was the Run Me If You Can game. The fun social fitness app lets runners interact and compete in real time with other runners from around the world. Matched runners race equal distances, crossing geo-placed checkpoints, and the first one back is declared the winner.

“The Hackathon was a great opportunity to learn more about the huge amount of data made available to developers through Copernicus and the incredible accuracy of Galileo positioning,” says Run Me If You Can team leader Francesco Renzi. “I think the ideas created at this event are just the tip of the iceberg, and that there are lots of yet-to-be-thought of real-world applications that will soon benefit from these European space technologies.” 

The overall winning idea came from the iDoBalloon team, who built an educational DIY High Altitude Balloon Kit. The balloon, which can be sent to the stratosphere, will provide science students with a unique point of view and a one-of-a-kind learning opportunity. “The whole process was a big challenge for our team – one filled with a lot of emotions and very little sleep,” says iDoBalloon team leader. “But thanks in large part to the on-site mentors and the support we received from the event organisers, we were able to reach our goal by the end of the hackathon.”

Taking home the prize for best GNSS/Copernicus integration was TeamONGrid and their application for tracking military endurance competitions using Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) maps. The app lets teams easily share location data with their support detail, designate upcoming team service points, and use digital breadcrumbs to simplify navigation on paper-based MGRS maps. TeamONGrid was also the overall runner up and the runner up on the GSA Prize.

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Updated: Nov 21, 2017