'Futurethon' aimed to fix droughts and other civic issues

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/jukree)

Hosted at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) in downtown Los Angeles, the Futurethon was a collaborative effort aimed at finding solutions for droughts but expanded its focus to find solutions to other civic issues in the areas of health, immigration, and transportation. 

Dozens of individuals attended the weekend event on June 6th - 7th to find innovative solutions to a drought in California. Water conservation is a significant issue in the state with the average person using 123 gallons per day - compared to the average of 88 gallons of water per day. 

Futurephon was created out of collaboration between several organisations including the City of LA, Deutsch, Global Shapers, USC, and Hack for LA (the largest civic hackathon in Southern California.) 

The team presented a clever atmospheric water condenser which was created using a 3D printer

In order to tackle civic issues in California, Mayor Eric Garcetti opened the hackathon and cited the datasets available to the public to make use of. High school and college students joined professionals from the advertising, design, entertainment, marketing, and technology spaces to combine out-of-the-box problem solving with experience. 

"Technology and democracy kind of rely on the same values," said Mayor Garcetti. "In order for technology to be successful and democracy to be successful, they need participation, they need collaboration, they need enterprises." 

A diverse range of attendees - with an age group ranging between early teens to people in their 80s - listened to experts over the 48 hours and crafted their proposals. At the end of the 48-hour period, teams submitted documentation on their projects, and finalists were invited to pitch their idea. A total of 14 teams submitted solutions for the Futurethon. 

The winning team, chosen by Deutsch, used images of celebrities Kim Kardashian and Caitlyn Jenner for a 'Save a Californian' tongue-in-cheek social media campaign. It incorporated social currency and encouraged people to save water while interacting with influencers. As the winners, the team was awarded with the choice of an Apple or Samsung smartwatch. 

Another project, DewGood, was selected as the runner-up. The team presented a clever atmospheric water condenser which was created using a 3D printer and was disguised as a solar-powered garden lamp to lower surrounding air temperature and form dew water plants in the device's vicinity. 

Do you think hackathons offer an opportunity to solve civic issues? Let us know in the comments.

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