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CityHack Bucharest: Pimp my connected bin with LoRaWAN!

Orange city hack 2017

RAPHAEL APFELDORFER: As Actility’s Experience Engineering Director, I was among the 100 participants of CityHack 2017 in Bucharest, the smart city hackathon organized by Orange Romania, Tremend and Actility. On 22 -23 September, our 8HATS team built a demo of a waste management solution based on LoRaWAN that won the first prize. I’d like to share how we came to this success!

Let me first introduce myself: within Actility, I’m leading an engineering team which is responsible for implementing our public API and connector strategy, thus allowing a whole ecosystem of customers and partners to easily integrate with our IoT platform, ThingPark. I’ve passionately demoed our DX API platform as well the capabilities of ThingPark for developers in half a dozen meetups, hackathons, and bootcamps.

Alex making a demo of DX API at CommitIOT meet-up hosted at 42 dev school in Paris.
Alex making a demo of DX API at CommitIOT meet-up hosted at 42 dev school in Paris.

Experiment and have fun

You should also know that I’ve been working closely with Tremend, the fastest growing technology company in Romania, on our front-end and user experience for four months now. So, it was key for me to know better the technical partner helping us with software design & development: see their new offices, experiment a technical project together… and simply have fun!

So here I am with three of my Actility colleagues invited to this CityHack2017, ready to prototype a smart city solution with French and Romanian fellow IoT developers.

It was probably the most intense developer event I got to experience since I have joined Actility about a year and a half ago…

Creative, tech and IT skills 

D-30: The team

I discover my team, the 8HATS, one among 13 altogether. We’re eight engineers from Actility, Orange and Tremend, chosen for our technical or development skills ie hardware, backend, API, mobile apps… And we also have a team coordinator Andrea, who’s helping us with UX/UI.

8HATS logo on table
How come we’re called 8HATS? We’re 8 people and had to find a name quickly

D-1: The preparation

It’s Thursday evening, I have landed in Bucharest this very afternoon. I’m meeting the team for a working dinner. We still have two projects in our shortlist; we need to pick one and finalize everything before the hackathon kicks off tomorrow. A couple of us stay until 2 AM to work it all out… we eventually choose the waste management project because it has a lot of business potential and is also very challenging from a technical perspective!

Building up the suspense

D-Day: The competition

Using the LoRa technology is strongly recommended by the jury to prototype smart city solutions based on IoT. Our role, as Actility technical LoRaWAN experts, is to help the 100 participants with any question related to this technology and more specifically related to device provisioning devices on a LoRaWAN network with our ThingPark software platform and tools.

As far as 8HATS is concerned, the Bin++  solution is based on LoRaWAN.  I was in charge of the pitch and my teammates got to present the demo… which kind of draws you back to good old MacGyver shows, doesn’t it? 



Now you also know the secret ingredient of the recipe… LoRaWAN sensors (for color, weight…) and a camera placed inside the bin allow detecting the waste material!

Of course, I’ve purposely built up the suspense on how the connected bin can automatically detect the waste material… That’s how we ruled!

More seriously, I had the chance to be assigned to a dynamic team, with good energy, ideas, and execution. Every team member was committed to the project and brought their personal touch! To conclude, I’d say that the supportive and cooperative spirit was not the privilege of our team, it was part of the hackathon’s atmosphere.

Next time you’ll hear of 8HATS could be either when Bin++ is launched on the IoT market or after our team weekend in Amsterdam (nice prize, huh?)!

What is LoRa and LoRaWAN white paper techniical overview, benfits and use cases

Learn more about the LoRaWAN technology by downloading the Actility “What is LoRaWAN” white paper