CĂ©line Brault, Community Manager at KPN API Store

A couple of weeks ago, the KPN API Store team headed to the Dutch Innovation Factory in Zoetermeer for the fourth Dutch Open Hackathon! Here’s our take on what was an amazing weekend of spontaneous creativity and collaboration.

Improve everyday life

This year the hackathon was all about finding ways to improve everyday life and fell into 4 tracks:

  • In the city: how can we improve our cities to improve lives? What tech can we create to get goods and people to their destinations on time and safely? How can we plan cities to make them better places to live both now and in the face of climate change?
  • On the go: how can tech revolutionize transportation and distribution not just on the city level but globally?
  • At home: as smart home technologies become more common, how can we integrate them to improve both home security and our health?
  • Doing business: how can we balance the sharing of ideas and commerce that ever-faster networks give us, with the risks of cybercrime?

At KPN, we’re working every day to answer questions just like these. And we wanted to make sure that the participants at the Dutch Open Hackathon 2018 had the best APIs with which to build their solutions. That’s why Andre, Anushka, Dejan and Rob from our team headed to the Dutch Innovation Factory ready to help the hackathon participants to implement our APIs in their projects.

Always moving forward

Right the from the start, there was a pulse of excitement among the participants. Twenty-three teams from across the Netherlands and beyond had gathered to solve problems, play with tech and make new friends; oh, and beat the competition!

One of the things we were most looking forward to learning was which of our APIs would be the most used. Across the weekend, the Cubes by KPN Image Recognition API was a big hit. It enabled teams to automatically categorize images that had similar characteristics, making it especially well-suited to projects that were solving problems of understanding and improving city environments.

Everyone’s a winner but…

The enthusiasm and collaboration displayed by each team was truly inspiring. However, hackathons are competitions and by the middle of Sunday afternoon it was time to announce which teams had made it through to the semi-final. Of the original twenty-three, eight teams made it through. They then had the opportunity to pitch their work to the judges and take questions. It was clear that the judging panel found it a hugely tough decision but, in the end, there could be only one winner.

At 16.00, the winners were announced. A team going by the name Crimebusters, had built a bot to test whether a particular website was safe or not, took the €7,500 prize! Of course, we had some favorites of our own and were particularly impressed by the Force One, a system for enabling people to video potentially dangerous situations and upload the footage to a community of people who could review it before deciding whether to alert the Police. Force One made use of both our SMS and Image Recognition APIs.

What’s next?

It was amazing to sit with the teams and help them implement our APIs. We loved it so much that we went to the Beyond Banking hackathon not long after and we’ll share our report on that event soon. If you’d like to see the KPN API Store at your next hackathon, get in touch!

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