Hacking and Winning at Kyiv Smart City Hackathon – Interview with Ivan Blinov

Ivan Blinov, Scala Engineer at Daxx project Exabeam, has recently participated in Kyiv Smart City Hackathon. In this talk, Ivan told us about the hackathon, unveiled an app his team developed in only 24 hours and gave some tips for coders who want to join a hackathon for the first time. 


Tell us a bit about the hackathon.  

Kyiv Smart City Hackathon was held on August 9-10. It aimed to bring together the best IT specialists to generate new functional solutions for Kyiv Smart City App. It’s the very first urban application from Kyiv Smart City that allows you to get quick access to all electronic services of the city. In such a way, it makes more comfortable the lives of Kyiv residents and guests of our capital. 

Overall, there were 20 teams of 3-5 members each. Each team was working on a specific topic – medicine, public transport, recycling, Virtual City 360, just to name a few. There were 5 people on my team – a designer, marketer, Android developer, chatbot creator, and I as a back-end developer. I’ve never met them before. Savvy mentors provided us with real data and guided us in the process. 

Was it your first hackathon? How did you prepare for it? 

No, I participated in Google Hash Code and the university hackathon before that. The last one was victorious for me as well. To be perfectly blunt, I didn’t have any extra preparation. 

What was an idea/prototype that your team developed? 

Our topic was the public transport schedule. We used EasyWay as a prototype, but we did our best to make our app as informative as possible. It allowed to search for the nearest stops, track an approximate distance to each of them, check the arrival time and route of the transport. Plus, our app had a user-friendly interface – all information could be found in two clicks, within the same menu. Everything was very intuitive and transparent. 

Are you satisfied with the hackathon’s results? 

Sure. There were three winning teams with no ranking. Our ‘Sunshine’ team was among them. However, I must confess that we faced some difficulties within our team and with the application itself.

The ‘Sunshine’ team

Is it important to have a mentor? 

We discussed the idea with my teammates at first. Then our mentor from Kyivpastrans confirmed its viability. Also, we could work with real data thanks to our mentors. The mentorship was helpful from that point of view, but my team worked autonomously most of the time.  

What advice can you give to someone who wants to participate in a hackathon for the first time?

Above all things – don’t be afraid to go there. If you don’t have a team, it’s not a big deal. You can find one at the hackathon. It’s an exciting and valuable experience indeed. 


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