RMIT hosted the Smart Cities Melbourne Hackathon 2017, where teams competed to build solutions for cities of the future. Smart Space won, with their space rental App using the Ethereum blockchain. 

Teams of developers converged for the Smart Cities Melbourne hackathon at RMIT University this weekend. The teams competed to build solutions for the cities of the future. The event was run by the Blockchain Association of Australia, a not-for-profit organization headed up by a team of proponents for Blockchain technology that seeks to build the developer community within the emerging Blockchain. The growth of emerging tech is supported by these events, with their primary purpose being to build decentralised systems that work without middlemen.

Hackathons allow for innovation untethered by commercial interest. The events build upon the potential to remove the control of centralised authorities and give technology back to its users. This is the fundamental benefit of Blockchain’s inherent peer to peer nature. (Imagine for instance, Air BnB without the fees!)

Because Blockchain technology is a new and emerging technology, hackathons create an environment where ideas flourish. This allows new technology like the Blockchain to develop in novel ways, with surprising effect. Because Blockchain technology is a new and innovative field of research and industry, the projects developed within the hackathons have great influence over our understanding of its growing possibility.

The winner of the event, Smart Space team, built a space rental app using the Ethereum Blockchain. This allowed for them to create a peer-to-peer application that made renting a workspace simple.  You can watch the live stream of all the presentations here.

Blockchain technology is of great interest to multiple sectors including financial institutions, government bodies, and academia. The SmartCitiesHack Melbourne event was sponsored by ANZ, Sphere Identity, City of Kingston, Blockchain Learning Group and the University of Melbourne.

The event was judged by Chami Akmeemana and notably Jonathan Reichental the Chief Information Officer of the City of Palo Alto, a leading authority in smart cities.

The hackathon allowed the developers and enthusiasts to connect with fellow innovators and showcase skills that are in high demand – developers in the field are described as ‘unicorns’ – while they competed for their share of the $12,000 in prize money. They also created real world contacts and built MVPs on a new and emerging technology that is disrupting major industries. At the heart of the SmartCitiesHack was the opportunity for developers, entrepreneurs and industry leaders to collaborate on real world solutions. Taking this emerging tech and running with it in directions that traditional interests don’t readily consider.

The growth of technological innovation is directly correlated with the number of participants in these hackathon events. Toronto, a city booming with a vibrant Blockchain culture, had over four hundred participants in their recent SmartCitiesHack. With new ideas and new startups popping up immediately after these events.

RMIT is in the heart of the city, a modern campus that provided a nurturing environment for the event. Teams of invigorated and passionate people worked together over three days. They cohabitate and bounce of each other with vim and vigour. The SmartCitiesHack events had an unusually high representation of young and female developers. The real triumph of this hackathon though was the inclusion of  Melbourne Girls Grammar College and Westall Secondary College and who sent in teams of students to participate.  With young developers at such a crucial stage of their education involved in this emerging technology, Australia’s future in the Blockchain industry is promising.

Mr Akmeemana had this to say about the future of the Blockchain Association of Australia:

“Our goal is to have a community of 1000 Blockchain-trained developers within a year, and facilitating platforms like this hackathon is but one of the ways we are working towards this goal.”

With the event undoubtedly a success, with novel ideas and real world proof of work developed over the course of the weekend, we can see that the Blockchain Association of Australia isn’t just a pipe dream. With more events and hackathons to come, the future of Blockchain technology is bright.

Written by Mark James Sands

Edited by: Madeleine Charters

About the author:

Mark Sands is the Managing Operator of an emerging Blockchain start up in Melbourne.