Don Christian shows off a CHAdeMO plug from Joel Clemens

Don Christian shows off a CHAdeMO plug from Joel Clemens

Jim Pollock, the author of LeafSpy, whiteboarding at OSIsoft

Jim Pollock, the author of LeafSpy, whiteboarding at OSIsoft

OK, zero emissions probably sounds like fun, particularly to InsideEVs readers. But what's a hackathon, you ask? It surely must involve some nefarious activity. Believe or not, this is exactly what we heard from a hotel manager when we were negotiating a special event rate couple of weeks ago. Hacking apparently can have two meanings. One of them, the one that's typically portrayed in popular culture, involves some type of unauthorized access to computer systems or software. Clearly, this type of activity cannot do much to help bring about a more sustainable future. Or can it? Well, over the years, hacking also became synonymous with creative and exploratory programming.

When you hear software engineers say that they "hacked" something, this usually means that they have implemented some functionality or fixed a problem in a short amount of time, and without taking all the necessary precautions. It's often done just to validate a solution, to see if it would work. Think of a "hack" as the proverbial duck tape and chewing gum. In fact, MacGyver would likely want to be called a hacker these days. Hacks are not meant to be of lasting quality. They are supposed to help solve a problem quickly. As programmers will tell you, once they "hacked" something, they will always allocate more time to engineer a proper implementation of the solution they identified through hacking.

So what would a hackathon mean in this context? It's a gathering of like-minded people determined to collaboratively and quickly identify solutions to problems. Not surprisingly, hackathons are often attended by software developers. The term itself was first used at an OpenBSD cryptographic programming event in Calgary in 1999. Contemporary usage of the word has grown beyond programming, and can extend to all walks of life. A parking hackathon could be an event held by a municipal authority to identify solutions for better asset utilization, more convenient billing or improved customer service. Conversely, a zero emission hackathon is about finding solutions to the most pressing challenges EV drivers face today.

Jonathan Zinck prefers to run LeafSpy on a Nexus 7 tablet

Jonathan Zinck prefers to run LeafSpy on a Nexus 7 tablet

Unidentified member of the

Unidentified member of the "Black Ops" charging squad

A good example would be increased range confidence, which could be achieved by combining drive information with accurate geodata and some heuristics. This could lead to an interesting solution, which might not have been considered before. Another topic could be improved charging station utilization, including driver-to-driver communication. If you feel that any of the above resonated with you, and you had time to join a hackathon held in Sunnyvale between April 25 and April 27, then we would love to hear from you. Particularly if you happen to own a LEAF, and would like to help make it an even better EV.

Participation is not limited to LEAF owners though. We would like to bring together a group of individuals, who share a common passion for zero emission mobility. There are going to be both technical and non-technical tasks and challenges to be solved. If you would like to get together, and help address some of the most pressing problems in mobility, and bring about a greener planet, please sign up below. Be sure to use the promo code INSIDEEVS16. Discounted hotel accommodation is available as well.

The zero emission hackathon is organized by the San Francisco BayLEAFs. It has been long coming and many people have contributed to it already. While it's great to talk about it publicly, it's even more exiting to be able to invite everyone interested. The possibilities are literally endless, and we hope to spark a tradition, which will help advance zero emission mobility, and accelerate broad adoption of these vehicles. So come to surprise or be surprised. We need your skills and talent!

If you unable to participate this time around, we hope that you will find the event both inspirational and useful.

Eventbrite - Zero Emission Hackathon

*InsideEVs is a proud sponsor of the non-profit SF BayLEAFS organization.

Main Event Partners

Main Event Partners