Home » Dealertrack engineers use public data to #HacktheClimate

Dealertrack engineers use public data to #HacktheClimate

Corey, Ben, and David, left to right, at HackVT.
Corey, Ben, and David, left to right, at HackVT.

Three Dealertrack software engineers participated in the annual Burlington, VT-area hackathon, HackVT.

In its fifth year, the gathering has expanded from an event hosted by local tech company MyWebGrocer, to a sprawling hub of activity, attracting competitors from outside of Vermont to work for 24 hours on an application that fits the theme.

This year’s theme: Looking at ways to use technology to mitigate climate change. More than 140 data sets were collected by the organizers, the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce, and using Google and state APIs, developer set to the task of making the world a little bit greener.

Corey Andalora, a tech lead; Ben Corneau, a tech lead and Java developer, and David Davis, a UI developer, all in the advertising development division of Dealertrack’s Engineering team, competed in HackVT on Friday, October 9 through Saturday Oct. 10.

It was Andalora’s third year competing, and his return after winning third place in 2014 with a team under the same name from Dealertrack – Team TBD.

“I like it because it’s a well-run event with good food, side competitions, great facilities, and a chance to put my skills to the test against other talented hackers,” said Andalora.

Last year’s app, called Flint, allowed users to to upload electricity account info and compare to friends, set a budget, show peak vs. off-peak hours, average use and more, according to the HackVT site. “Flint is like the Mint app for energy,” the description said.

Team TBD in 2014, winning the third-place prize of $2,000 for developing Flint, an energy-use tracking app. Photo: Green Mountain Power.
Team TBD in 2014, winning the third-place prize of $2,000 for developing Flint, an energy-use tracking app. Photo: Green Mountain Power.

Alas, placing wasn’t in the cards this year, but Andalora, Davis and Corneau’s project still impressed judges: Street Smarts, a video game, allowed users to rearrange the roadway that their player would be driving on, in order to come up with the least carbon-emitting route to their destination, given the characteristics of the land.

“The goal of this is to try and get the lowest number [of CO2 emissions], try and beat your friends,” said Andalora explaining to judges how the game worked.

“The goal is to see how much you can save.”

 

StreetSmarts, the app Dealertrack employees built at HackVT 2015.
StreetSmarts, the app Dealertrack employees built at HackVT 2015.

Using Kotlin to generate a Javascript game engine mixed with pure front-end Javascript code, they built a commuter simulation game where the goal is to build a street system complete with traffic lights to get everyone to their destination as quick as possible therefore minimizing CO2 emissions.

Open data from HackVT’s repository helped them calculate the emissions output of the game’s main character. “We figure if you don’t realize you’re learning, that’s the best way to learn,” Andalora told a judge.

The winning team, called ManBearPig, developed an app called One Day, that also tracked CO2 emissions, but was more of a personal tracker. Similar to how fitness trackers or calorie counters work, it – instead of tracking calories – tracked carbon emissions and waste from the moment-to-moment decisions made by a person’s use of electricity, water, transit, each moment of the day.