By Ricky Brundritt, EMEA Bing Maps Technology Solution Professional
The Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition. In ten years, the Imagine Cup has grown to be a truly global competition focused on finding solutions to real-world problems. Since 2003, over 1.4 million students have participated in the Imagine Cup.
With the recent announcement of this years winners, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to highlight some of the top finalists that made use of Bing Maps in a really interesting and impactful way.
1st place in the Environmental Sustainability Category
Greenway is an application created by a team from Germany who won the Environmental Sustainability Category. This application is a navigation system with the potential to reduce the CO2 emissions of cars by preventing traffic congestion. The system proactively routes city traffic by calculating the best route for each car and communicating that information back to each driver. Ordinary navigation systems divert traffic jams onto smaller streets after they have occurred, whereas Greenway actively aims to prevent traffic jams by reserving timeslots for cars on the streets. With this technique, Greenway knows the position of participating cars for any given point in time, including the future.
This application combines Windows Azure, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Windows Phone and Bing Maps to create a very powerful and useful service. With global warming, CO2 emissions remain a constant concern and this is a great example of how technology can be used to help solve the world’s problems.
The winning team put together a very informative website for the Greenway application and you can read more about it here.
2nd place in the Health Awareness Category
CapStreet is an application created by a team from France who finished 2nd in the Health Awareness category. This application is an excellent example of how Bing Maps can be used to provide a valuable public service.
CapStreet consists of two parts: a website and mobile application. Both are designed to map out accessible routes for those with disabilities on Bing Maps. The application will suggest differing routes for those in wheelchairs and on crutches according to the profile the user creates. It also allows user-generated updates to routes.
The idea behind this application is to provide users with accessibility information for points of interest throughout a city. Each point of interest is assigned a value from 1 to 4 indicating the level of accessibility. To give you a better idea of the accessibility values, here are a few examples:
Level 1: A location that is not wheelchair friendly (e.g. with stair access).
Level 2: A location that is user friendly to those on crutches, but not accessible by wheelchair (e.g. a subway station with an escalator, but no elevator).
Level 4: A location that is fully wheelchair accessible.
This is a great example of the innovative and inspiring work created through the Imagine Cup competition. For those interested in more details the project outline can be accessed on the Imagine Cup website here. The team has also made their presentation that outlines the project in more details available online here.
3rd place in the new Windows UI App Challenge Category
Hapeanut is an application created by a team from Korea who finished 3rd in the Environmental Sustainability Award Category. Hapeanut is a new Windows UI application that teaches people around the world how to grow peanuts more easily to help address global hunger. Peanuts are used by organizations such as the World Health Organization as a relief food in countries that are suffering from famine to save people from starving and malnutrition. Using Bing Maps users can see where in the world peanuts have or are being used to help save lives. An outline of this project is available on the Imagine Cup site here.
Let IT Bee
3rd place in the Environmental Sustainability Category
Let IT Bee is an application created by a team from Korea who finished 3rd in the Environmental Sustainability Category. Let IT Bee is designed to support the bee farming business by aiding farmers and local companies. This application records inspections, treatments and feedings; tracks colony temperament; and records honey harvest, using cloud, Web and mobile platforms.
This application makes use of a Windows Azure, Windows Phone and Bing Maps. Bing Maps is used in a couple of ways in this application. It is used in the mobile application to visualize weather data and the website version as a way to connect beekeepers and their location. An outline of this project is available on the Imagine Cup site here.
Nagawi, Pollution Point Management System
Finalist, Environmental Sustainability Category
Nagawi is an application created by a team from Georgia (the country, not the US state ) who made it to the world finals in Australia for the Environmental Sustainability Category. Illegal dumping of garbage is an ever increasing problem that not only looks bad, but is a real threat to our environment. The Nagawi application aims to create a tool to help identify and monitor these areas by creating a social platform for identifying illegal landfills.
This application makes use of the Windows Phone and Bing Maps in a really response way. Users can use their Windows Phone to mark the spot of illegal landfills using the GPS device in the phone. They can also take photos and have them attached to the location. This data is then loaded onto Bing Maps and enables organizations to monitor and managed these polluted areas. To add an additional social aspect to this, they have also created a Facebook page where the Bing Maps application is made available for viewing the data. You can check out the website for more information here.
Finalist, Environmental Sustainability Category
Clean H20 is an application created by a team from Armenia who made it to the world finals in Australia for the Environmental Sustainability Category. This application enables people to check water quality anytime, anywhere; and get up-to-date statistics about water availability, quality standards, and waterborne diseases.
The solution is comprised of a small device that checks water quality parameters and transfers the data to a Windows Phone through Wi-Fi. The received data is analyzed and stored in the Windows Azure cloud, generating worldwide statistics on quality and accessibility of water. All water quality results are tied back to their original location and can be viewed on Bing Maps. An outline of this project is available on the Imagine Cup site here.
Finalist, Health Awareness Category
Blood It is an application created by a team from Oman who made it to the world finals in Australia for the Health Awareness category. This application is a system that monitors blood units in a blood bank. When blood units fall below a critical point or there is an emergency situation, a GPS system will allocate nearest donors of that blood group and show their location on Bing Maps. The system will then automatically send out SMS messages to matching donors asking for their assistance and waits for confirmation. The system is used to maintain adequate blood levels in the blood banks and supply the bank with the needed amount of blood in emergency situations in a minimum amount of time. The time it takes get needed blood from donors is very critical in saving lives, so decreasing the time needed to reach blood Donors is a big win. An outline of this project is available on the Imagine Cup site here.
Swift Emergency Response (SwiftER)
Finalist, Software Design Category
Swift Emergency Response (SwiftER) is an application created by a team from Nigeria who made it to the world finals in Australia for the Software Design category. This software solution is designed to improve the response of medical, security, fire and other services to emergency situations. SwiftER allows on-lookers or passersby to report an emergency situation via their Windows Phone using buzzwords and pictures. Once reported, the nearest and/or most appropriate emergency service would be notified and dispatched to the scene. Other Smartphone’s with GPS capability can just snap their surroundings and upload the picture via the mobile web. The GPS coordinates would then be extracted from the pictures and sent to the nearest appropriate emergency service. The emergency services have the ability to locate the scene of the emergency via real time positioning and navigation and visualize it on Bing Maps. Real-time positioning comes in handy when responding to emergencies in remote locations and rural areas. SwiftER also includes a chat feature to facilitate communication between the reporters and the emergency services. An outline of this project is available on the Imagine Cup site here.
These are only a few of the many great applications created through the Imagine Cup competition. The Bing Maps team would like to congratulate all those who competed in this year’s Imagine Cup – really a job well done! This year there were lots of excellent entries which are sure to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. If you are interested in finding out more about the Imagine Cup or competing in next year’s competition, you can visit the Imagine Cup website and follow the action.