Two new initiatives have emerged from a weekend competition this month in the Halifax startup community that could soon be helping commuters and drivers in the city.
It would be premature to call KNOWtime and Vallet.me businesses because these groups have only been working on their projects for less than two weeks. Let’s call them teams that are interested in continuing with their projects and possibly to turn them into commercial ventures that would help Haligonians.
A few weeks ago, we reported that the Volta co-working space would host a hackathon, at which 140 tech enthusiasts would be invited to develop new products using data supplied by the Halifax Regional Municipality. The hackathon on Sept. 14 and 15 was won by a team that calls itself KNOWtime. It is developing a smartphone app that would help transit users know when their bus is coming.
Using the free application, transit users can tell a centralized system what bus they’re taking, and then the app would send GPS signals to tell the system where the bus is. The idea is to get enough people using the app that anyone waiting for a bus can log on and find out how long until the bus reaches their spot.
The team, which includes several St. Mary’s university alumni, is entering the product in the apps4Halifax competition, which HRM is organizing in November. Beyond that, they’re keeping their options open about what to do with the product.
“Several opportunities are being evaluated and if a sustainable business model can be developed then the team would seriously consider taking it forward,” said team member Heather McPeake. “There has been considerable discussion around social enterprise and if there were a chance to build a business that could give back to the community in a big way, that would be an optimal outcome for the team.”
The other members of the team are Yan Ni, Mandhir Singh, Jeff Stockhausen, Jon Sangster, Aaron Eisses, Jason Zaluski, Denna Jiang, and John Courtney.
Vallet.me aims to solve a problem for drivers who have difficulty finding a parking space downtown. The smartphone app would record parking spaces available throughout a downtown area and use the parking lots’ systems to show which lots have spaces available. That would tell drivers in real time where they can find available spaces close to them, and what the cheapest available spaces are.
“The idea is to use an app on your phone and find out what’s the nearest, cheapest space,” said Scott Gallant, speaking on behalf of his team.
Both teams on Tuesday presented in the PitchCamp competition affiliated with Invest Atlantic, and did well. Vallet.me came in third and KNOWtime placed fourth. They will now move on to Apps4Halifax, which means they have to have an app developed and available for sale by late November.