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BERC Cleanweb Hackathon 2.0: Smarter Sprinkler saves water and takes top prize

2014 April 29


Building off the success of last year’s hackathon, BERC successfully threw its second annual “cleanweb” hackathon this past weekend. The result was four new apps to help analyze and reduce home water consumption, food-related water footprints, and commercial building energy consumption. You can find complete information on the contestants and winners here, including teammates, concepts, and screenshots. Photos of the hackathon can be found here.

The winner “Smarter Sprinkler” combined a compelling water conservation concept with some adept software and hardware hacking. The team, consisting of three LBNL scientists (Anna Liao, Daniel Olsen, Andrew Weber) and one local software developer (Robert Sadler), worked hard all weekend to build a combination of open source hardware and software to make intelligent home irrigation schedules based on current weather, drought, seasonal, and user-based information. Given that half of household water consumption happens outdoors, this new app will give homeowners the ability to take control of their water usage. They expect their solution to be compatible with at least 90% of existing sprinkler controllers, and the app interacted with a “simple measurement and actuation profile” (sMAP) driver and server, which is actually a type of protocol developed here at UC Berkeley.

Smarter Sprinkler's software dashboard

Smarter Sprinkler’s software dashboard

Another innovative app to help conserve water was a tool to help people plan and optimize their dietary choices based on the water footprint of their data. Developed by two developers from QE-Design, they used some fun concepts from Captain Planet to lighten the mood at the hackathon, even though they did some serious data wrangling with USDA and Water Footprint Network datasets. Greenvite, the winner of the energy challenge, allowed users to save energy in conference rooms, by reducing heating/cooling consumption in unused conference rooms and by allowing building occupants to compare the energy use of a conference room at different times.

This year, the hackathon included “skills sessions” on open data standards, using API’s, web app frameworks, and Javascript visualization, which created a space for learning and sharing skills in addition to the usual innovating and coding. The hackathon also showcased the recent launch of two BERC communities, Cleanweb Berkeley and infoEnergy Nexus Working Group.

BERC would like to extend special thank yous to our sponsors for making this event possible includingGenabilityIBM Smarter PlanetWaterSmart Software, and Imagine H2O, as well as our event volunteers and mentors including Andie Mercado, Yang Ruan, Peter Minor, Peter Alstone, Anna Schneider, Dav Clark, Michael Cohen, Justin Trobec, Jolie Chan, Sherry Wu, and Dan Sanchez, who helped plan, run, and enrich the event for all attendees.

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