The best idea in the world – and space
Marcus Hedenström at Volvo IT is part of the winning team in the NASA Space Apps Challenge. His team’s idea on how to make our cities greener won amongst 10 000 other participants in over 50 countries.
“The idea is to collect various kinds of environmental data, in our case local atmospheric conditions, and present a map with an overlay indicating how clean the air is. People can then choose between different routes for the best experience biking or walking between home and work, amongst other things”, says Marcus Hedenström.
The hackathon International Space Apps Challenge is an international mass collaboration focused on space exploration that takes place over 48 hours in cities around the world. The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on earth and life in space. NASA is leading the global collaboration along with a number of additional government collaborators and over a hundred local partner organizations.
“Much of what made the Hackathon great was the interaction with other people from my own field and I saw the opportunity to combine my interest in space and astronomy with my interest in mobile application development. It was exciting to be part of a project with so much potential and I am very glad it got the attention it did,” says Marcus.
The winning idea Marcus and his team came up with is based on using a basic air quality and soil sensor which users can “plant” into their garden and through that get a variety of information about the environment it is in. The aggregated information can both be used by city officials to monitor air quality on a neighborhood level, and by scientists to gain deeper insights related to global climate. This could encourage people to grow food locally, while also creating a massive open-source database of local environmental data.
“My best tip to others when it comes to innovation is to draw inspiration from two or more completely different fields, then create something that has a place in people’s daily lives,” Marcus concludes.