We came. We saw. We Hacked. #CityHack16

What do you get when you put 100 passionate minds from industry and government in the same room, competing to solve a modern city’s greatest challenges with technology? A Hackathon, that’s what! Read on to find out what a mix of brilliance and chaos delivered at CityHack16.

On the weekend of 25-27 November 2016, our Brisbane office hosted some of the best and brightest minds from across the city for AECOM’s inaugural CityHack16 – an industry-wide competition designed to promote innovative thinking to address some of the complex issues facing the city.
The event drew over 100 participants from across Brisbane, including over 80 hackers, 12 mentors and five judges, including Colette Munro, our recently appointed Chief Digital Officer for Australia and New Zealand.
Kicking off on Friday night, participants were briefed on a range of problems currently faced by Brisbane, including two specific challenges from the Department of Transport & Main Roads (TMR) and Brisbane City Council (BCC). “Hackers” formed into teams and worked together over the weekend, many for hours into the night, to come up with proposed technology solutions that would not only address issues at hand, but shape the city for future generations. Each team was required to pitch their ideas to the judging panel on Sunday afternoon. The proposed solutions needed to include a business case for the issue their solution would solve, how it would perform economically and how their business would be structured. The viability of ideas also needed to be verified from external sources.

The 5 Categories

1. The way we experience the city

Activate the river, wheelchair accessibility, inner city green space, attracting international expos, condensed living, social interactions (integrated guide to events, bands, markets, available restaurants, travel, parking, and accommodation), city safety and bringing it all together.

2. Maximising idle assets

Air bnb of idle assets – stadiums, carparks etc.

3. International students and visitors

Attraction and living experience of international students and visitors to SEQ.

4. Work & Life balance

Over-supply of inner-city apartments, healthy communities, distanced workforce, work/life balance, working from anywhere, flexible working.

5. Congestion, accessibility and parking

Cycle safety, use of car park spaces once driverless cars are adopted, congestion, driverless cars, car sharing, carparking, maximising travel times, optimising mobility.

Two Challenges

They were then provided with the option of addressing one of two challenges set by TMR and BCC.

1. TMR Challenge – Which way to go?

In times of an emergency, all citizens within the 5 emergency evacuation zones of the CBD may need to be evacuated. Depending on the location of the disaster and its extent, how and where people need to evacuate may need to be flexible. People need information on what may be impacted by the event to help inform their choices. Standard communication methods and electricity may be cut, so solutions need to consider off-grid solutions.

2. BCC Challenge – Smart in the Suburbs

Often the focus for cities is their CBD, however, to retain our lifestyle, we need to look at providing smart and connected opportunities across the suburbs. Opportunities that enable people to live and work and play in ways that are more efficient, inclusive, flexible and fulfilling.

To see the photos and videos from the weekend, search #CityHack16 on Flickr.

AECOM North West Australia Managing Director, Todd Battley, was blown away by the interest in the hackathon. “We were actually at capacity and couldn’t accept any further hackers 10 days before the event. The collective focus on making Brisbane a more liveable and safer city really brought out the best in everyone. I’d personally like to thank the judges, mentors and partners for making CityHack16 possible.”
The mentors included senior leaders from Amazon, GoGet and Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network who were on hand over the weekend to help the hackers test the feasibility of their ideas. We are thankful to all of our event partners for their support:

According to Battley, “CityHack16 had all the key ingredients; a really interesting challenge, lots of data, passionate individuals and last but not least; great food and snacks to maintain energy levels!”
The panel of judges were:

The winning team took out $10,000 for their idea of an innovative emergency communication system that doubles as a selfie projection screen. The idea, known as The Hub, was developed by a team of four during the hackathon.
The Hub combined resilient infrastructure, with a giant projection screen in locations popular with tourists and residents such as Queen Street Mall or Suncorp Stadium. The projector is linked to a photo booth at street level, where selfies are taken before they are beamed live onto the side of buildings and shared via social media.
One of the hackers who created The Hub, Derek Jouppi who studied nano-technology at Waterloo University in Canada said, “The 2011 floods where 35 people lost their lives, demonstrated the fragility of Brisbane’s existing emergency communications plan. Once power was lost and the mobile network failed it was impossible to get critical information to Brisbane’s most densely inhabited area, the Central Business District. Most emergency communications displays are unused for 99.9% of the time and the majority of people wouldn’t even know they were there.”
The Hub is off-grid and isolated from any power or telecoms failures, using battery and solar mesh technology. On day two of the hackathon, the concept was trialled at Queen Street Mall and it was a resounding success.

“Brisbane’s CBD doesn’t really have an iconic visual backdrop like the Sydney Opera House or Times Square in New York and The Hub creates one. It is a fun way for people to ‘check in’ to Brisbane and can also play a critical role in directing people to safe zones in the event of flood, fire or even advise revellers to avoid certain overcrowded locations on New Year’s Eve.”


L-R – Jeremy Cent, Scott Boerson, Samantha Mehan, Derek Jouppi


The other winning teams from the weekend were:



Team Name

First Prize


The Hub

Runner Up


Dugong Protection Society

Little Tokyo Two & Pitchblak Prize

6 Months at The Capital with LT2 and $3k startup package with PitchBlak.

Hack City

Brisbane City Council Prize

3 months for 2 people at The Capital, Brisbane.


Department of Transport and Main Roads

Shortlisted 2 teams to take to the next stage of discussions.