On 16-18 November, 10 teams made up of 45 hackathon enthusiasts from across Europe participated in the Copernicus AtmosHack challenge “Hack the Atmosphere” in Helsinki, Finland.

The teams were tasked with creating solutions to help people better understand/limit their exposure to air pollutants, and were encouraged to use data from the European Union’s Copernicus Programme which includes observations from EUMETSAT satellites & ground-based air-quality data, plus air-quality analyses & forecasts produced by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), which is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of the EU.

The event was jointly organised by EUMETSAT and CAMS, in partnership with the University of Helsinki and hosted by the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), with staff on-hand 24/7 to help the participants in any way they could.

The teams worked tirelessly all weekend and were assisted by on-site mentors, including EUMETSAT staff Mark Higgins, Federico Fierli and Joana Miguens, who were available to answer any questions they had about the data. The regular feedback from both the mentors and judges was very helpful as the teams prepared their final pitches for Sunday.

Each team had just three minutes to convince the judges why their solution was best, having received some useful pitching coaching the previous day. There were a real variety of solutions to air quality issues developed and it was inspiring to watch so many people passionate about helping the planet.

The winning teams and prizes were announced as follows:

  • 1st place: AeroZee, winning entry to the Copernicus Accelerator Programme (a 10-month business development scheme for start-ups)
    AeroZee combines a variety of different air pollution data with information on city vegetation health to help house buyers make informed decisions about where to live based on air pollution levels.
  • 2nd place: Airgotchi, winning 3 tickets to Slush, the world’s leading startup event
    Airgotchi is like the much-loved 90s digital pet, working on a similar platform for mobile which visualises nitrogen dioxide levels globally and views data via an “Airgotchi” mobile game.
  • 3rd place: Air of Inspiration, winning 2 tickets to Slush
    A mobile application that calculates how much air pollution a user breathes daily by combining Copernicus data on air pollutants with information about the user’s location.

The hosts at FMI were very hospitable and the fantastic cooperation with ECMWF, the University of Helsinki and hackathon organisers Ultrahack made this weekend a real success.

You can watch the final pitch, plus a feedback session for the Atmosphere MOOC jointly run by EUMETSAT and ECMWF via our Facebook page.

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Posted by Natalie Lunt

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