As a leading telecommunication provider, we were chosen to develop living 5G and IoT laboratories for five Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Create Projects. Through these projects, aql has enabled innovative partners through our Core IoT platform and 5G mobile network. We have deployed 5G networks and developed our IoT platform, collaborating with the Eden Project to help deliver the message of climate change urgency through the power of 5G. Our work with Mobile Access North Yorkshire and AMRC’s 5G Factory of the Future has seen us provide real-time environmental analysis to empower decisions in rural locations and to ensure optimal manufacturing conditions respectively. We further worked with Connected Cowes to bring high quality virtual reality footage and real-time telemetry to sailing regattas and Live + Wild to support real-time filming in extreme and remote environments. The millions of readings that are connected through our Core IoT platform have created living, breathing laboratories from which an incredible wealth of data can be drawn upon, analysed, and utilised to enact change across a breadth of industries.

 As part of our mission to support the community and enable smart cities, we have leveraged IoT readings and our 5G mobile network to host hackathons throughout Leeds. These events have demonstrated to local businesses and educational institutions the transformative power of IoT and 5G technology through our Core IoT platform and mobile network, underscoring the pivotal role these technologies will play in the future of smart city tech.

For the Smart Cities Hackathon, we planned to incorporate our AI engine to open the event up to a wider selection of attendees with different technical competencies. To do this, we designed and built several AI assistants with knowledge of the hackathon’s challenges as well as our Core IoT platform so that they were able to provide guidance on all aspects of the event and our hardware.

The hackathon, organised in partnership with Nexus Leeds and Ingenuity Leeds, was held at the Nexus Building on the University of Leeds campus. It attracted a diverse group of participants from the University of Leeds, the University of Huddersfield, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds City College, and the general public.

Our strategic partners from Alliot, Dales Land Net, Leeds City Council joined us for the event to support the attendees with real-world narratives to complement the IoT sensor readings. Alliot, as our IoT hardware partner, provided several different sensor types for the event including a selection of LoRaWAN and NB-IoT sensors. These helped demonstrate the different sensor technologies that can be connected through our wireless network services and managed within the Core platform. Our UK mobile roaming partner, Three, also attended the event, providing a signed Chelsea shirt to one of the hackathon winners as a prize. We also received promotional support from partners Digital Leaders.

With the help of our AI, attendees successfully completed a range of challenges, including enabling LoRaWAN and NB-IoT sensors, developing decoders and visualisations through the Core IoT platform, creating virtual sensors using the Core platform’s API, and developing custom data models using the wealth of sensor readings provided for the event. It was extremely rewarding to see how our AI was able to empower the various teams to understand and complete these challenges. 

By the day’s end, several of the teams had completed a majority of the challenges, showcasing their ability to understand and utilise our smart city technology. The joint winners of the event, Chinonso Ani, and the Leeds Beckett University students Yuchi Lai, Meenakshy Liju and Hibah Khan, were given dongles and data SIMs from aql to allow them to continue exploring the day’s challenges.

Chinonso Ani, one of the joint hackathon winners.

Dr. Jackie Campbell with joint hackathon winners Yuchi Lai, Meenakshy Liju and Hibah Khan.

“It was great for our Data Science and Computer Science students to get hands-on experience of how sensors collect data, and how in turn, that data is used to inform and maintain our city. The technology at the hackathon ranged from maintaining roads and predicting floods to assisting the community by providing real time information. Smart technology is the future and we are excited to be part of it! Thank you for the opportunity.” – Dr. Jackie Campbell, Course Director – Data Science, Leeds Beckett University

Students from Leeds City College being assisted by aql developer Anthony Beckett.

“This was the second time our students have attended one of aql’s hackathons. The students loved getting to grips with the kind of technology they wouldn’t otherwise have any access to. For some of them, it has allowed them to see how careers in technology could be, and has inspired them to explore this kind of path for their futures.” – Rebecca Ashworth, Leeds City College 

Huddersfield University Students busy hacking.

“Our School of Computing and Engineering students were grateful to have an opportunity to use aql’s Core IoT platform, as well as access to real-life sensor data. Being given the chance to see how this kind of tech is used in the field, as well as being shown how to use it, was both useful and inspiring for them.” – Joshua McKeown, Student Experience Officer, Huddersfield University 

aql VP Product & Development, Andrew Morris, delivering a talk at the event.

“This hackathon brought together a diverse group of partners and students from both further and higher education. It was incredible to witness the enthusiasm and energy of all the attendees as they tackled the complex challenges presented. The outcomes they achieved were truly impressive, and it was fantastic to see how they leveraged the hackathon AI to enhance their learning experience. This event was a brilliant showcase of how this technology can support future events, as well as our partners and customers.” Andrew Morris, VP Product & Development, aql

Chinonso receiving his signed Chelsea shirt from aql VP Product & Development, Andrew Morris

The Smart Cities Hackathon was a tremendous success. aql’s cutting-edge technology, combined with our partners’ data, offered young adults a unique opportunity to delve into IoT tech, smart city data, and AI. Through this event, we inspired the next generation to understand and engage with the transformative technology that drives change. We look forward to hosting future hackathons to inspire the next generation of technologists by giving them the opportunity to utilise cutting edge technology and real-world data.

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