Top Techies Tout Turning Off More Taps at Friday Hackathon

Top Techies Tout Turning Off More Taps at Friday HackathonDevice to help develop scanning system to place on waterTop Techies Tout Turning Off More Taps at Friday HackathonTop Techies Tout Turning Off More Taps at Friday HackathonTop Techies Tout Turning Off More Taps at Friday HackathonHackersInnovate Pasadena team Celina Guerrero and Ayzenberg Executive DirectorKeep Calm and Taboola on team busy at workOne developer sat down with Wendy De Leon of PasadenaOpenX team helped coordinate the event and gave technology Team Taboola Matthew Lin, Darin Minamoto, Jake Moghtader, Ben BernardTop Techies Tout Turning Off More Taps at Friday HackathonTop Techies Tout Turning Off More Taps at Friday Hackathon

Story and Photography by RACHEL YOUNG

3:38 pm | August 7, 2015


Top technology minds zeroed in on how to curb water consumption during California’s stubborn drought at Innovate Pasadena’s first Summer Hackathon held at the headquarters of global software firm OpenX on Friday.

With a time limit of six hours the 100 participants split into teams of four to create a web or mobile app that would encourage or remind Pasadena residents to conserve water in unique ways.

Team Taboola came ready to jump to action, outfitted with matching shirts, to create a “meter FitBit.” The team’s idea would place a sensor on your water meter that links to a responsive software app. From there it turns water usage into a competition between neighbors and how each meter lines up with city conservation goals.

“We think water conservation is a big deal. Also we love competition, we love hacking, the fact that it’s for a good cause makes it that much sweeter,” Jake Moghtader of Taboola said.

The software engineers, designers, and innovators received a briefing on the current drought status from Los Angeles City Water and Power representative Richard F. Harasick as well as Wendy De Leon of Pasadena Water and Power.

“Every drop really counts, every action that each consumer, each resident, each business takes will help us reach our overall goals to reduce water usage. I’m excited to see what these diversified minds come up with,” Wendy De Leon said.

Harasick said that although LA has grown by 1 million people in the last four years, the water demand has stayed the same at 113 gallons per person per day.

With fifty one percent of Pasadena’s water used by households, event coordinator Jay Baage hoped the created apps would be consumer friendly to help single-family households make a difference. Baage is the executive director of the Pasadena based advertising agenecy Ayzenberg.

Discovering that the 42,000 swimming pools in the LA Basin contain 645 million gallons Catherine Rhee’s team found their niche. Titling their project “Water Flow Cash Money,” the app will concentrate on an alert system to remind pool owners to cover their pool.

“Just by using a pool cover 90 percent of the evaporation can be saved. That’s a potential 700,000 gallons of annual savings simply by covering all the pools,” Rhee said.

The app would also feature tips for how to maintain a pool and how much savings per month the consumer is making.
Rhee enjoys the change of pace that the hackathon offers, “It’s good to come up for air every once and a while at events like this, I wanted to do something that was challenging and doing good at the same time.”

Another team wanted to incentivize apartment owners to encourage tenants to reduce water usage by dropping rent incrementally. The rebate program would include the City helping pay the decreased rent.

If a team creates a compelling product, the product has the opportunity to be developed or featured with any of the event partners OpenX, Ayzenberg, or for a Pasadena Water and Power campaign.

Hosted inside the long time tech hub that houses Open X and formerly was the location of eharmony. Baage wanted it to be hosted inside a technology company like Open X to help show the community the great spaces that exist. Open X is on the corner of Walnut and Lake Ave.

Director of OpenX Labs Caleb Sotelo, an avid backpacker, shared about a recent trip when he had to hike an extra five hours past his planned campsite recently because there was simply no water on the mountain.

“This is the reality and we can do something about it,” Sotelo said.

The competitors all used Angular, a JavaScript framework that makes it easy to create user interfaces and is used extensively at OpenX.

All the developed apps will be judged by a panel according to creativity, usefulness, and potential impact.

The winning team receives $1000 cash prizes, Moto 360 Smart Watches will be given to the runner up team, and a Fitbit for 3rd place.

Coinciding with the hackathon, Innovate Pasadena also hosted a job fair that brought 13 high caliber companies to recruit the tech talent of Pasadena including Warner Bros, Fox Digital Network, Sony, Spokeo, OpenX, Ayzenberg and YP.

The City of Pasadena will host a community event about water on August 13 at Brookside Park from 6:30-8:30. The City will also host the first grey water workshop on August 29 at Lake Avenue Church.