BeaconValley Hackathon: Making Cool Solutions for Krakow

July 13, 2015

Together with HG Intelligence and Hub:raum we jointly launched a project to beaconize much of downtown Krakow called BeaconValley. To kick it off, we hosted a hackathon a few weekends ago. Today, looking proudly at results and great use cases we created, we have to say: we did it! So if you’re dreaming about living in a beaconized city but you don’t know where to start, read on and get inspired!

Here’s what we came up with

So we’re one of the best beacon tech providers in the world and we were founded in Krakow, one of the best startup cities in Europe. Krakow is a relatively small space that attracts numerous startups. That makes it a great testbed for a smart city and a perfect ground for innovation. What we needed to kick it off was to give those startups proximity tools as a framework to build their own solutions. And since we wanted to make our own startup valley (and Krakow is surrounded on the south by the Carpathian mountains), we called the project BeaconValley.
The name was a kind of stroke of genius. It triggered an idea: let's give away 300 beacons and build a robust, shared network out of them. Beacons by themselves, however, don't do much: they need applications. Also, a smart city should serve the people and businesses in it.
That’s why we decided to involve representatives of local residents, businesses, and organizations, and encourage them to tell us about their needs and ideas. And in order to create applications that address these issues, we needed developers.
We decided to hold a hackathon.
Why do we want to tell you about it? Well, whether you’re in Krakow or Katmandu, the innovation that we’ve kicked off here is stuff that can apply to you in your startup, company, or organization. So look at the cool tech that came out of our hackathon, reach out to one of our hackathon developers if you have questions, and go and create cool stuff with proximity!

Here’s what we did

We wanted to involve at least 70 attendees and 15 companies that would have developed 10 finished apps that help solve real problems. In order to achieve these goals, we needed to make the hackathon irresistible for our target participants.
For the venue, we chose Hub:raum Krakow, our local startup accelerator that has a huge and creativity-friendly space. We created a dedicated website and held an event on Facebook. Using our and our partners’ channels, pushing traditional media, and spreading the word through social networks (thanks, Kontakters), we reached our audience quickly.
(Ah, we shot a video, too)
But to turn the audience into participants, we needed prizes. Cool prizes. These organizations and companies helped us sponsor: iPad Mini, two Apple Watches, three Windows Phones, Daniel Wellington watch, umpteen vouchers, and tons of other gadgets and freebies.

Here’s what we achieved

The results went beyond expectations. 100 attendees and 21 companies showed up. Their struggles were coordinated by 21 mentors. Together, they developed 16 apps, ready to be immediately implemented.

Judges, consisting of representatives of, HG Intelligence, Hub:raum, and organisations and institutions, were examining their efforts. They were giving points for the idea and execution. Based on that, they awarded the following solutions.

  • First place—TMBK
    An application that takes the sharing economy and applies it to electronic resources (like books), but uses beacons to limit the content sharing to specific places. For example, during conferences or author meetings, everyone can access free content on their smart device while they are at the venue and when they leave the content is locked and inaccessible. This way, the system helps minimize illegal content sharing after the fact and makes for seamless distribution and collection of sensitive data.
  • Second place—Magical Bus
    A city navigation app integrated with Pebble and beacons.
    Developers: Rafał Lizoń, Antoni Grzanka, Adam Niedziałkowski, Dominik Rosiek
  • Krakow Festival Office’s special award—Hidden City
    An app that shows attractive, but unknown or hidden, places in Krakow by displaying an alert on a user’s smart device with a beacon once a user is nearby.
    Developers: Patryk Lizoń, Jakub Król, Michał Kardyś, Mateusz Twaróg
  • Hub:raum’s special award—SigmaPoint
    An app created for co-working spaces that helps its users book meeting places and check if conference rooms are available.
    Developers: Kamil Burczyk, Przemysław Burczyk

What next?

Given performance over goals and the level of excitement from developers and the representatives who we had involved in this, there's a lot of good news from the event.
Some of these apps are going to be final and implemented products. Either because developers are going to finish solutions and deploy them by themselves, or because our partners decided to buy them!

BeaconValley Hackathon proved that the cooperation of representatives of culture, art, business, and technology may bring astonishing results. We’ll be definitely talking to some developers whose apps may help promote Krakow as the UNESCO City of Literature. We hope that as a result, we’ll be able to share their solutions with wide audience of Krakow’s residents and visitors.

Robert Piaskowski, Program Director at Krakow Festival Office

Moreover, we're already planning our next round of hackathons and events to help promote Krakow as a beaconized city. Also, we’d love to spread the idea across other cities. Let us know if you think we should bring a BeaconValley Hackathon to a city near you. 🙂

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