Las Vegas Hackathon Winners Detect Faulty Street Lights

Five University of Las Vegas – Nevada students and alumni won the Smart Cities Hackathon competition at the Consumer Electronics Show last month with their plan to provide the city with a more efficient way of identifying faulty street lights. Using the city’s open data provided at the competition, they created an automated system that will notify officials if a street light is out. Currently, the city relies on resident reports to identify outages, or dispatches technicians to patrol 52,000 street lights. City officials hope to have a working model for the automated system within the next 90 days.

“In school, you apply what you’re learning in homework, but you’re pretty much guided in everything,” said Maria Ramos Gonzalez, a member of the winning team. “It’s nice to work on real life applications.”

Incorporating Amazon’s Alexa, a portable Bluetooth and WiFi enabled speaker, the project makes use of statistical analysis to identify which street lights are not consuming energy at night, which allowed the team to identify nine broken street lights. The Hackathon attracted 28 other teams from around the world, with other projects including the analysis of the health of city trees and the use of digital graphics to display the information. According to City of Las Vegas IT Director, Michael Sherwood, the city is now planning its own hackathon competition.

“Ultimately, through the analytics the students were able to demonstrate through the Hackathon, we can take this existing data, and we can be a little more proactive in our customer service,” said Niel T. Rohleder, assistant traffic manager for the city.