10 Nov 14

Energy efficiency “hackathon” a success

Looking to make use of technology to engage with their customers, the energy company teamed up with engineers, data scientists and digital consultants from Atos and Samsung to hold a one-day hackathon in Atos’ Business Technology Innovation Centre, based around energy efficiency and smart homes.

Hackathons started in the late 1990s and are traditionally where computer programmers collaborate on software projects over a short intensive period.

Charles Delalonde, head of digital innovation at EDF Energy’s UK R&D Centre, said: “By holding events such as these we hope to investigate key issues in the energy sector, transform ideas into prototypes and enable the cross-pollination of ideas and expertise across industries.”

Various real business-case briefs were set and the mixed company teams had just six hours to deliver mock-ups, wireframes and prototypes on topics including energy efficiency, smart thermostats and in-home displays.

The ideas ranged from “Energy Hero”, a game-style app where the user progresses through levels by making real energy efficiency improvements to “Neighbourhood Watts”, an app created to encourage consumers to make energy donations to others in their community based on energy savings made in their own home.

“All the teams have really grasped what we are looking for in terms of using technology and big data to create customer-centric products,” Charles added.

“The breadth of ideas shows how events like these can inspire engineers beyond daily constraints to come up with something truly innovative.”

Rob Price, head of digital at Atos said: “For me, the value of the hackathon is in the fusion of business concepts and consumer services, backed by real data. Bringing together both the concept and analytics in this sort of environment breeds ideas that are both practical and innovative. In this time of consumer power this can bring real benefits to a business.”

EDF Energy’s R&D team will now evaluate the outputs from the day to consider if any can be taken forward and developed into real products.