Technical.ly has partnered with Comcast to produce the machineQ hackathon and reviewed this article before publication.
For many of us, there is an attraction or an allure to building something from the ground up, to devising new systems, schematics or plans. What if you could do that for a whole new city infrastructure?
That’s the idea behind this month’s (sold out!) machineQ Smart City Hackathon, an IoT hackathon produced by Comcast and Technical.ly which will allow students, startuppers and programmers to imagine and build technologies for a completely new IoT infrastructure in Philadelphia.
That new IoT infrastructure is Comcast’s machineQ, a low-power, wide-range network optimized to enable open source IoT technologies. Philadelphia is now one of only three metros in the country to boast of such a network, and there are hopes that its implementation could make Philly a smart cities leader.
That’s because it’s both cheap and powerful enough to bring some of the most far-out IoT schemes into the realm of feasibility. Apps that show you where there are open parking spaces, streetlights that turn themselves on and off by sensing the light around them — the possibilities are plentiful.
“One of the reasons I’m so excited for this event is that IoT, specifically LoRa, is an emerging technology with the potential to leverage broad change across Philadelphia,” wrote Dawn McDougall, executive director of Code for Philly and the hackathon’s emcee, in an email. “The distribution and implementation of LoRa means that technologists can think creatively about existing systems and reimagine how physical infrastructure can serve modern, urban communities.”
We asked three people coming to the hackathon what they’re noodling on:
Tim Axness, Partner at Pansofik
We think LoRa is a good choice for building management, home automation, and smart cities where low cost devices with long battery life are desired. I’m working with Pansofik, an IOT consultancy based in the Urban Tech Hub in New York City. We are actively exploring applications based on LoRa to take advantage of its low-power, wide-range capability and mature non-proprietary standard.
I heard about the hackathon from the LoRa Alliance website and the Philly IoT Meetup. I am looking forward to learning more about the MachineQ network and how we can apply it to new business opportunities.
Jackie Lightfield, Executive Director at the Stamford Partnership
I’m working on a project that uses real-time sensors to show that you can track things like noise decibel, and create a log of incidents where a decibel level is breached. Oftentimes, it’s very difficult to enforce things like a municipal policy noise ordinance. One of the challenges in most urban areas are quality of life issues. You want people to live in urban areas that are lively with nice street activation, but if you live over something like a bar or nightclub, you might not appreciate thumping bass tracks at night.
The old school way of looking at an issue like that is to use zoning to restrict things like bars or live music and hope that in areas where you have those things that traditional enforcement works. This IoT pilot is designed to show how you can use tech to monitor the environment in real-time, which means that enforcement of noise and decibel level becomes something that isn’t dependent on someone going out to the a site to evaluate the condition after the fact.
The Comcast machineQ hackathon is a great way to investigate new tech platforms that might enable applications like this to be created and more importantly be deployed by municipalities all over. LoRa tech means that you can integrate a sensor project into a networked environment where instead of focusing on a single location, you can tackle a wider area. Urban areas are difficult to operate because of signal noise and just the whole urban canyon effect. So anything that can improve how you can connect to the cloud to provide services is important.
Shveta Gupta, Master’s student in electrical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania
LoRa seems to be very promising in connecting a wide range of devices through a common network, i.e., in implementing IoT on a large scale. I have heard a lot of people, both in my school and outside, talking about the huge potential they see in LoRaWAN. I am a student at the University of Pennsylvania, deeply interested in IoT and I felt this would the perfect opportunity to be a part of this IoT culture that is spreading and explore more about it.