Défi Vélo Hack's pedal power comes to Concordia
Coders, designers, cycling enthusiasts, municipal employees and engaged citizens came together over the weekend at Concordia's District 3 Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to take part in Défi Vélo MTL.
One hundred and twenty participants showed up for the hackathon, organized by the city, which challenged them to come up with urban mobility solutions for Montreal’s cyclists.
“We believe 100 per cent in collaborative design, and that the community is a wealth that we can tap into to get creative and innovative ideas,” says Harout Chitilian, deputy chairman of the City of Montreal’s Executive Committee.
The thematic hackathon saw 20 groups present their ideas before a jury after two intense days of creation.
Some of the more notable projects to come out of the event included a proposed series of pathways in areas frequented by cyclists that are currently without trails; a recyclable BIXI container to transport bikes from one event to another; and a digital cycling aid capable of calculating the safest route from point A to point B.
“The event was a great success, our initial objective of mobilizing people around an urban issue was met,” says Chitilian. “We will now funnel those teams that pitched marketable ideas towards our smart city accelerator, InnoCitéMTL.”
Mircea Busuioceanu, an Industrial Engineering student at Concordia, says he attended the hack to challenge himself, and connect with people who share his professional interests.
“Défi Vélo represented a chance to learn, and to find out what I can bring to a team,” he says. “It’s the best type of place to network because you're meeting people who all have an inner fire, who want to meet and make something. It’s all about passion.”
Chitilian says part of the weekend’s success may be due to the fact that, unlike other hackathons, professional mentors were made available to the groups throughout the development process.
He credits District 3 with being an important factor in the Défi Vélo’s realization, mentioning that its atmosphere is perfect for this type of creation-orientated event.
“District 3 is one the most important hubs in the city,” he says. “Just coming here and breathing the air, that is so full of energy from the creative, innovative young people who occupy the space, enhances debate and exchange.”
Xavier-Henri Hervé, director of District 3, points out that over the last two years the centre has hosted more than 100 different events, from "Ladies Learning Code" to neurotech hackathons.
“Smart cities with smart cycling are a part of the world that needs to be created,” he says. “So hosting a hundred and some people who are working on trying to make that happen makes sense to us.”
As for the future of collaborative events between the city and District 3, Chitilian says at this point it’s just a matter of keeping the ball rolling.
“Our biggest challenge now is to keep this momentum, and identify pin points that will continue to bring citizens together.”
Want to learn more about Concordia's District 3? Swing by the centre for one of its information sessions, held every Tuesday at 12 p.m. and Friday at 2 p.m.