Brainstorming Solutions for Australia Bushfire Challenges

As an exemplary case of harnessing our academic resources to create real and meaningful social change and the outcome of our desire to aid our friends in Australia, MTA supported a Hackathon aimed at developing potential solutions for Australia in the wake of the recent disastrous bushfires.

The 24-hour Hackathon, held on January 30, 2020, saw almost 200 Israeli developers, water experts, zoologists and cyber experts come together to tackle some of the most pressing challenges faced by Australia in light of the massive bushfires. The challenges (see infobox) were defined together with Australian organizations, with the aim to provide concrete and innovative solutions that could be deployed and make a real difference.

The event was endorsed by Australian ambassador Chris Cannan, who attended the event together with Colonel Brandon Wood and Omri Wislizki from the Australian Government. Dr. Racheli Calipha, Head of MTA’s Capital Market Track in the first degree, was one of six judges in the competition.

First place was awarded to AirKoalaty, a team from Israeli company ClimaCell, for an application that enables Australians to make smart, real-time decisions about outdoor activities, such as sending kids to school, based on accurate weather information, factoring in current and expected levels of air pollution.

The runner-up was Survivors, who suggested a platform for monitoring endangered species and returning them to their habitats.

In third place came FireFly, which devised the best use of drones to identify pockets of extreme air pollution.

The winners are already meeting with entities that will be able to implement the solutions and work with the groups to continue developing their ideas.

Six Australia Bushfire Grand Challenges

1. Prevent the huge quantity of ash and flame-retardant materials wash into the water resources and aqua systems.

2. Develop means to detect and prevent scams in online donation platforms.

3. Address fire damages in telecommunication and energy infrastructure to ensure connectivity and energy supply.

4. Propose strategies to attract tourists back to Australia.

5. Provide means for better monitoring and improving air quality in affected areas.

6. Establish ways to map the decimated and endangered species in affected areas and monitor their re-population.

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©2020 by The Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo