The first CASSINI European hackathon for space-based entrepreneurs will take place from the 18 – 20 June. The Irish portion of the event is hosted by The National Space Centre (NSC) in Elfordstown Co Cork, and sponsored by Blacknight with €4,500 in prizes for the winners, free hosting and free .EARTH domain names.

Rory Fitzpatrick, CEO of the National Space Centre, joins us on today’s podcast.

Click on the player below to play the podcast, or download it here: 14:08; 8MB; MP3Scroll down to see the video.

The theme of the hackathon is ‘Digitising Green Spaces’ and it’s focused on helping teams develop new applications using satellite data and signals. The competition involves 9 other countries across Europe and will take place 18-20 June.

Blacknight has sponsored the Ireland hackathon. The top three Irish teams take home €2,500 1st, €1,500 2nd, and €500 3rd place prizes PLUS each of the three winning teams gets a .EARTH domain name and a Minimus web hosting package for a year.

The National Space Centre (NSC) is Europe’s most westerly teleport and Ireland’s only commercial ground station. Opened as Elfordstown Earthstation in 1984 at a cost of IR£8M (€25M today), the facility will celebrate ten years of operation as the NSC in 2021. The company provides commercial broadcast services, ground control support for satellites and spacecraft, academic research partnerships and space industry consulting. The NSC’s co-located Space Campus is home to more than a dozen Irish space startups and EU-headquartered space enterprises.

The refurbished site has grown from five initial antennas to 33 antennas on-site today. These range from a variety of dishes as small as 3.7M to the site’s flagship 32M dish, known as The Big Dish.

CASSINI is the European Commission’s programme to foster and support space-based entrepreneurs. It covers both “upstream” products like satellites and launchers and “downstream” ones like products, apps and digital services enabled by space data.

The CASSINI Hackathons are a series of six European-wide hackathons held over three years. The purpose is to foster the “downstream” pipeline by encouraging new individuals, startups and companies to explore the business potential and application of Earth Observation (EO) data from space.

The theme for this first hackathon is Digitising Green Spaces. The specific challenges are:

  1. Discover Your City: This challenge tasks hackers to design products, devices, services or environments that enable urban citizens to better understand their city and its green spaces. Examples:
    1. Supporting urban planning and real estate development and valuations
    2. Discover green factors contributing to residential life
    3. Promoting ecological sustainability
  2. Staying Fit and Healthy: This challenge tasks hackers to design products, devices or services that enable city dwellers to stay active and keep their minds and bodies healthy. Examples:
    1. Mapping and accessing green spaces for outdoor activity
    2. Forecasting air pollutants such as pollen, nitrogen oxide, or particulate matter
    3. Understanding and monitoring UV exposure
  3. Protecting Our Rural Areas: Rural environments are a fundamental part of a sustainable future. This challenge tasks hackers to design products, devices, services or environments that promote the digitalisation of rural green spaces.
    1. Wildlife and ecosystem conservation
    2. Ensure healthy and resilient forests
    3. Development of new green spaces and underdeveloped areas

There will be three Irish winners and the first-place team will move on to compete in the European final. As Rory explains, they are looking for people with ideas rather than expertise. Experts will be on hand to advise the participants, who can come as teams or individuals, who will be helped to form teams with other participants. Applications are invited from a wide range of people: students, enthusiasts, startups, or businesses and teams will be formed around people with diverse skills: data and computer science, business, marketing, design, and those with problems and ideas to solve them!

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