The 2015 Water/Energy Nexus Hackathon (Hackathon) held at General Assembly in San Francisco exceeded expectations. The gathering on August 15-16, 2015 attracted 70 coders as well as policymakers and water and energy experts. Made possible by keynote sponsor California American Water (CAW) and The Water Innovation Project, the Hackathon gave participants the opportunity to showcase their technology-based innovations for reducing water and energy use during California’s drought.

In a press release, CAW President Robert MacLean noted, “The intersection between water and energy is crucial today, especially when we need to discover new ways to conserve water and energy. Events like these can highlight how smart technologies and intelligent water grids can be enhanced even further if we take different approaches to accomplishing the same task.”

hackathon-tweetAfter 36 hours of work, the solutions generated by 15 teams of coders were presented to a panel of judges, including CAW’s Vice President of Operations Rich Svindland, California Public Utilities Commissioner Catherine Sandoval, Sally Gutierrez from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development and individuals from Verizon and the Presidio School in San Francisco.

The Best Overall Award went to the “Water Conservation for CAW Team” for creating an extensive application that compares monthly, daily and hourly household water use against defined benchmarks to identify customers who are using water inefficiently or wasting it. CAW is looking at ways to incorporate this tool to help customers conserve water. The “California Drought Team” won the Best Out-of-the-Box Award for using multiple datasets to identify vulnerable sectors of the population such as those on fixed incomes. And the Audience’s Choice Award, voted on by all teams, was presented to the “Water Game Team,” which developed an application with exceptional graphics that included an incentive for high water users to earn tax rebates for conserving water.

“There is no better time to hold this event,” said the event’s curator Christopher Peacock, founder of H2O and The Water Innovation Project, in the press release. “Considering how critical it is for state officials, business owners and citizens to find resilient solutions to deal with our drought driven paradigm, this two-day event can unveil new ways of thinking about how we interact with technology.”

Due to the success of the Hackathon, discussions are already underway for a future event.

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