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Commons Sensor


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Commons Sensor


Who: Commons Sensor

When: Summer 2015

Where: Western Sydney

This project launched by Western Sydney University's Institute for Culture and Society, and aims to build a database of objects that belong to “commons” - public property, creative commons, open source software, communal spaces. The specific initial focus is on Parramatta, and the hackathon challenge was to be to find some creative ways to visualise and imagine some of this data in ways that will engage the Parramatta public. At the Western Sydney Summer 2015 Hackathon the team began work on mapping items and places belonging to the commons in Parramatta.

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Kolorob Bikkhon


Kolorob Bikkhon


Who: Kolorob Bikkhon

When: Summer 2015

Where: Western Sydney

In developing urban areas like the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh, essential services like health, education, training, finance and employment can be difficult to find. They may not be registered, they may operate informally, or details about their locations, cost and operating hours may be inaccessible. Even though mobile and smartphone use is growing rapidly, location services like Google Maps or Open Street Maps provide only partial solutions. To address this, Save the Children is sponsoring an ambitious project called Kolorob in several slum areas. Through the project, communities are mapping different services, and the project is also developing an app to show where these services are and provide detailed information on them.

Our challenge was to tackle one specific part of this puzzle: how to navigate from A to B. We will be building upon existing routing services provided by OSM and try to handle some of the unpredictable routing challenges in informal settlements – no formal roads, frequent changes, walking only paths and narrow passageways that rickshaws can navigate, even if cars cannot. The team produced a working webpage which allows their partners in Dhaka to test multiple mapping algorithms against each other to see which work best for routing trips through the slums of Bangladesh. 

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Darcy Street Project


Darcy Street Project


Who: Darcy Street Project

When: Summer 2015

Where: Western Sydney

Darcy St Project is a Parramatta based social enterprise that runs barista and coffee brewing training to the long-term unemployed. Western Sydney is a difficult place for young people looking to find work. The project was looking to build an app that assists with training, a kind of 'barista mentor' that helps people not only with the technicalities of making coffee, but also how to get ready for the hospitality job market. 

The team ended up with a working on a first prototype of an app (Barista Mentor) for training people from vulnerable populations in the basics of the theory they will need to get work in cafes. It emphasises video and interactive, gamified learning and social sharing. 

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Empower PaRramatta


Empower PaRramatta


Who: Empower Parramatta

When: Winter 2016

Where: Western Sydney

Community-driven solar power brings exciting possibilities to generate low-cost renewable energy in the city. However it also brings challenges, particularly  for many of the apartment complexes that are spreading through Parramatta and other urban corridors in Western Sydney. Is there another way?

Empower Parramatta was looking to raise awareness of community solar, plus develop a business model and technical proof-of-concept for a peer-to-peer decentralised energy network, targeting apartment blocks that currently have little incentive to invest in solar (distribution among different unit owners etc). 

The team brainstormed a proposal for peer-to-peer energy distribution from solar panels, so that users in e.g. apartment blocks don't have to use power companies as brokers if they want to share generated power with their neighbours.