Cleanweb Hackathon NYC: Winning App Helps Shoppers Find Efficient Appliances
The second edition of the Cleanweb Hackathon concluded this past weekend in NYC bringing together scores of innovative minds in information technology who believe “cleantech” can solve the resource constraints of the 21st century.
This weekend in New York City, programmers spent the entire weekend building mobile and web apps around new ways to manage energy, water, food and fuel. As Sunil Paul, the founder of the event and a partner with Spring Ventures, put it in a short talk on Sunday afternoon, the idea behind the project is that “Information technology is the most powerful lever we have to address resource constraints.”
The idea behind the Cleanweb is to use existing information technologies to accelerate clean technologies and resource-efficient business models, said venture capitalist Sunil Paul, a cleantech whiz who helped popularize the term “cleanweb”.
CNET reported that 15 teams, including one from Columbia University, showed off their “hacks” and received awards. The Web and mobile applications touched on everything from streamlining the solar business model to identifying municipal buildings in New York that most badly need an energy efficiency upgrade.
The overall winner, as determined both by the judges and other participants, was an application called Econofy that helps online shoppers find the most efficient appliances. The Web app pulls data from EnergyStar ratings and popular products on Amazon to show consumers how much they would save by purchasing a more efficient model and the purchase price. In the process, the developers hope to create more competition among manufacturers to make efficient air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions, and the like.
Another prize winner was NycBldgs.com, which used energy usage data provided by New York City to create a map of the municipal buildings and how they rank on energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. The app is designed to zero in on buildings that could improve their efficiency and, conversely, identify buildings, such as schools, that perform well.
As Sunil Paul says,
Today, information technology exponentially (has) more power, is mobile, and has an embedded trust model of social networks. It’s a layer of infrastructure to allow a transformation of how we use energy, resources, food, water, and land.