HackTrain InnoTrans, the first ever hackathon to be held at rail’s biggest exhibition festival will take place from the 18th – 21st of September. The launch, which is open for all to attend, will be at the Business Lounge from 5pm – 8pm. RSVPs can be made at https://hacktrainitlaunch.eventbrite.com
Over 400 innovators from around the world applied to participate in the hackathon with only 80 being selected to take part. This year’s applications were particularly tough to judge with Hack Partners CEO, River Tamoor Baig stating: ‘We’ve never had this much top talent applying to attend our hackathons before from so many different parts of the world. One of the participants has never actually even been on a long-distance train in his entire life having grown up in Hong Kong using only the MTR. Yet, the ideas he is suggesting on how the passenger experience for long distance journeys can be improved are astounding. It’s why I’m so excited for this year’s event. We’ll have participants literally coming from all corners of the world which will make for an incredibly diverse and creative hackathon.’
In previous years, the event has been held outside of InnoTrans, with winners receiving trips to Seoul, Singapore, and Hong Kong courtesy of the Hack Partners team as a reward for their efforts. This year, however, Hack Partners have changed the prize from a location to an opportunity: ‘We just thought we’d change it up a little. Instead of making participants go to a specific location decided by us, why not let them decide themselves where to go themselves?’ said River Tamoor Baig.
Network Rail, which is a gold partner for the event is bringing a total of 5 challenges to the table ranging from detecting vegetation overgrowth to identifying degraded architecture. Apurva Sinha, Network Rail’s Head of Innovation and Information Management states: ‘Innovation is incredibly important to Network Rail which is why we support initiatives such as the HackTrain. We’ve had an incredibly positive engagement so far with the Hack Partners and can’t wait to see how the innovators who take part in HackTrain InnoTrans solve some of our biggest challenges.’
Apurva will be joining HackTrain InnoTrans as a judge for the HackTrain InnoTrans finale alongside other industry leaders from Deutsche Bahn, Siemens, and SilveRail.
For a while now, Deutsche Bahn has pursued its aim to build a well-connected community in the data world. ‘Hackathons are a good format to exchange ideas and collect input to build new services, optimize processes and promote digital business models in the future. Having an efficient-connected community consisting of experts, partners, developers, startups, interesting challenges and data is like having the perfect mix of ingredients to create a totally new delicious meal. With these ingredients, we create a base to develop creative concepts and prototypes that subsequently grow with Deutsche Bahn. At HackTrain InnoTrans we are excited to discover new innovators with unique approaches and ideas that open a new area to a digital world.’ said Onno Szillis, Head of DB mindbox.
Baig mentions that this year he hopes to continue 100% of the ideas from the hackathon. Their new operational model has allowed HackTrain and its partners to take forward 50% of the challenges that were solved from the last hackathon. The ORR was one of the organisations who benefited from this new way of working, this year with even more preparation, HackTrain is aiming for a full 100% which they believe they will be able to achieve with the help of new partners like Fujitsu and ORM.
River Tamoor Baig said: ‘Historically, we’ve always been a facilitator, introducing innovative tech companies and suppliers to TOCs and Network Rail etc. For last year’s hackathon, we actually helped continue the ideas by collaborating with some of our hackathon participants and partners to run pilots with TOCs. By doing so, we managed to take forward 10 out of the 19 challenges that were given to our participants. Now, with established tech companies like Fujitsu, Siemens, and digital consultancy ORM we are aiming for that magic 100%.’
‘InnoTrans is the marquis event showcasing innovations in the rail industry, so it is only fitting that the hackathon takes place at the show. HackTrain reinforces the industry’s commitment to innovation management and Siemens Mobility is proud to foster an environment that enables the latest ideas for enhancing passenger experience, intelligent infrastructure and guaranteeing availability,’ stated Marc Ludwig, Head of Freight and Products Rail Automation for Siemens Mobility.
Fujitsu may be new to the initiative but is certainly not new to the rail industry. Chris Patton, Head of Transport Marketing EMEIA mentions that ‘For many years, Fujitsu has been digitally co-creating with customers and technology partners to ensure successful business outcomes. That’s why we’re hugely excited to be collaborating with Hack Partners. Through the application of some innovative thinking and unique approaches, together we’re aiming to address some of the key challenges affecting organisations in the Transport sector.’
Launching at InnoTrans’ spectacular Business Lounge on Tuesday evening these 80 innovators will be given challenges and datasets from the industry’s top rolling stock manufacturers, train operators, and suppliers. They will then work through the night from Wednesday to Thursday in the CityCube building where they will create new prototypes using hardware sensors, machine learning, and data analysis techniques.
The outcomes from the event will then be presented throughout Friday morning and afternoon to industry experts at the Career & Education Forum (Hall 7.1c). The winning team will walk away with a cash prize and the title of being the first ever winners of HackTrain InnoTrans.
ORM, one of rail’s more innovative digital consultancies who supported last year’s hackathon are returning once again as sponsors. Peter Gough, Managing Partner & Founder states: ‘We’re pleased to be once again sponsoring this year’s Hacktrain event and conference, as well as being part of the hack at Innotrans. At ORM, data is core to what we do, informing and validating our ideas for how we can enhance the customer experience across rail travel. That’s why we’re excited to be setting one of the challenges at the hacks this year and share our learnings from the world of rail and transport at the conference.’
A key sponsor since HackTrain 2.0 in 2015, SilverRail, which not long ago, was acquired by aviation giant Expedia, is backing the hackathon with CEO Aaron Gowell mentioning that: ‘At HackTrain, big rail tech issues are being tackled head-on by innovators with new technologies, and new thinking – a mission that is in harmony with our own.
‘Rail’s time is now. The industry is ripe for addressing historic real-world problems in creative new ways – and we’re excited to be amongst it. SiverRail has already begun to show how technology, data, and sound digital infrastructure is something to be embraced. Any collaboration with startups, developers, and innovators who think the same way take it from being a company mission to a movement, and so we are extremely excited to be partnering with HackTrain for another year.’