Back to the safety

 By Mariangela Chianese

When innovation calls, the makers respond. The Rome hackathon, the marathon of computer scientists, engineers and creatives focusing on safety generated a lot of excitement. Especially for the winning team, six young people who will be flown to MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the heart of global innovation, thanks to their project: a system of wearable technologies that detect biometric parameters and the positioning of operators, communicating the statistics to a server in real time …

The enthusiasm was palpable from the opening of the doors of Via Reggio Emilia. The atmosphere was electric, that healthy enthusiasm typical of the eternal boys, those who, regardless of their actual age, are not content just to live in their comfort zone, but continually seek new challenges.

And it was here, under the multicolour sky of Macro, Rome’s  Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, the exceptional location of the Big Hack, that the stories of the six young winners Simon, Lorenzo, Mohamed, Fabrizio, Eleonora and Remus have crossed as they responded to the big challenge launched by Eni to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries to personnel working in industry, especially in high-risk activities. They were the youngest and most heterogeneous group of this marathon of over 24 hours, not only computer scientists, but also experts in marketing and creatives, and they won the coveted prize offered by Eni: a five-day trip to MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

No more shortcuts, we have to put workers in the position of having to comply with safety rules,” said Simone, in the tone of a true leader.

Words which, coming from an eighteen-year-old, sound even more ambitious and meaningful, as he solders with one hand and programs with the other.

“We are designing something that is easy to wear, non-invasive, and that especially isn’t heavy or cumbersome,” continues Lorenzo, “we have in mind a system of wearable technologies that can detect biometric parameters and the positioning of operators, and communicating the statistics to a server in real time.”

And then there are the legs that move in rhythm, both to contain the pressure, and to mark the seconds that pass. The timing of realisation is that of the web. Fast, smooth; almost immediate.

The main difficulty is speed. There is never enough time. We didn’t even eat, but we devoured the packet of biscuits I brought from home,” says Simone.

The six young winners Simon, Lorenzo, Mohamed, Fabrizio, Eleonora and Remus

In fact, the main feature of a hackathon is the limited time available for the project.

Fabrizio was born in Ecuador and has lived in Italy for 25 years. He is a visual designer and doesn’t seem very interested in the prize: “My main goal is to share ideas, work, projects and to make contacts. These are the main reasons that I was motivated to take part in the maker experience.”

Mohamed, meanwhile, comes from the Ivory Coast and studies mechatronic engineering in Padua, he makes fun of his colleagues, easing moments of tension: “Guys, calm down, we have had the sun in our faces for 24 hours, the light of the monitors on the work benches.”

We met here and this has definitely been an added bonus. We all came with different ideas, but thanks to a long initial discussion, we managed to integrate our ideas and create something good. Something useful,” explained Eleonora. “Our goal,” interrupts Remus, “was to re-educate the behaviour of workers, using the mass of data collected, like a black box, to understand the grey areas and define which activities to target.”

And then there’s the incredulity of a son who at the end of the evening, after the award ceremony, hides in a corner, hoping not to be heard, “Mum, I won. I won a trip to MIT. Don’t you believe me? I’m leaving on Friday. Yes, Mum, I swear, I’m not kidding.”  In a voice breaking from the excitement and also a hint of emotion. “Mum I will stay at MIT.”

So, these are the noble values, perhaps the best part of the web, that make Hackathons an important opportunity to develop ideas, work, creativity and collaboration.

about the author
Mariangela Chianese
Web & Digital Communication Specialist at Eni