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Inga Walliser

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AI hackathon for mobility: Creative power in mixed teams

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What will mobility be like in the future? And how can artificial intelligence help to make this future employee-friendly? The icing on the cake here is that the needs and perspectives of the various users are taken into account with this mobility mix. This supposedly complex topic was superbly addressed by the nine international teams taking part in the 24-hour hackathon.

Claudia Pohlink, Head of AI bei den T-Labs and Dr. Olga Nevska, Managing Director of Telekom Mobility Solutions

Claudia Pohlink, Head of AI at T-Labs and initiator of the hackathon, together with Dr. Olga Nevska, Managing Director of Telekom Mobility Solutions and sponsor of the event, at this year’s #AIHack4Mobility.

This year’s AI hackathon took place in a unique virtual space. In contrast to recent years where the on-site events were held at Telekom in Berlin, this year’s challenge was, as a result of the current pandemic, streamed directly into the participants’ living rooms where they were able to tinker with the possibilities of future mobility in a virtual room. The idea behind this was to ensure the broadest possible spectrum with the expertise of the most diverse group of people and perspectives in order to develop unique future models for mobility. 

The big advantage with this years’ 24-hour hackathon was that there were no national borders and time differences and that the participants from 15 countries – from the Ruhr region to New York and India – were able to hack, code, and, ultimately, make their final pitch. To kick off the event, Claudia Nemat, Board Member for Technology and Innovation, encouraged the teams to find user-friendly solutions for the mobility of the future!” Particularly important to her is human-centered technology, i.e. technology that solves a real problem and thus makes everyday life more pleasant for people.

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The challenge

The first big challenge was to choose the teams. In addition to the basis of an AI tool and the case study on the topic of mobility, a basic requirement here is a diverse team. This is what we have achieved in our nine international teams, including one third women and an age range from 20 to 60.

Diversity – at Deutsche Telekom, we believe that diversity in innovation teams is particularly important as we are convinced that unique ideas that take various user experiences into consideration are only developed with this approach. This is also important to Mardia Niehaus, SVP HR Technology and Innovation, emphasizing in her keynote “the simple truth is that our customers are all diverse”. And this is especially important when it comes to the use of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) – as many cultural and social aspects as possible should be taken into consideration when using AI so that these systems are able to decide in a truly fair and unprejudiced manner.

Mobility – the topic of sustainable mobility is important. This is because we want comfortable solutions that are environmentally friendly and cost-efficient, especially in a professional context. How might a demand-based digital sharing platform be structured? How can I generate incentives to integrate such solutions into my daily routine and, in doing so, reduce my personal CO2 footprint?

The objective of the hackathon is to utilize algorithms from machine learning in order to understand which demands are already being placed on a dynamic working world with various mobility service providers.

The winners: 24 hotly-contested hours later

While the audience at home were able to watch various speakers talk about mobility at the #HacKon4Mobility conference of our partner ioki, which took place at the same time as the competition, the nine development teams had to roll up their sleeves and get programming!

Moderator Kenza Ait Si Abbou and Sponsor Dr. Olga Nevska

Presenter Kenza Ait Si Abbou and sponsor Dr. Olga Nevska congratulate the winning team „GenAI“: Bianca Schloo, Vipul Malik, Wenzhang Xu, Sakib Hasan, Aleksei Karetnikov, Christian-Esther Enriquez-Morales.

And it was worth the effort. The jury comprising famous figures ultimately decided that “GenAI” was the winner. Dr. Olga Nevska, Managing Director of Telekom Mobility Solutions, justified this decision with the 360-degree approach, the intermodular structure of the all-in-one app with additional gamification and, in addition to the 5,000 euro prize money, proudly announced that the solution would be taken into account at Telekom Mobility Solution.

Even more prizes and words of appreciation:

Jury member Ulli Waltinger, Technology Head of Siemens AI-Lab, emphasized how important the vision and business opportunity is in order to achieve a good pitch result and praises the runner-up “Future Mobility” (3,000 euros). Claudia Pohlink, Head of AI at T-Labs and initiator of the hackathon, praised the animated app of the third-placed team with a wink as “MobAI” (2,000 euros) took the avatars of Board of Management members Tim Höttges, Claudia Nemat, and Birgit Bohle on an imaginary journey. Last but not least, the audience award. The audience’s favorite team was “BeyondStations” whose vision of mobility disposed of fixed stations and timetables in favor of an on-demand model. In the coming days, the team will receive a surprise delivered to their homes.

Presenter and co-initiator Kenza Ait Si Abbou was happy after the 24-hour marathon: "Irrespective of who made it on the podium, the most important thing about the AI hackathon is – as every year – to take part and experience the spirit and creative force of the event." Our mood video shows some of these exciting moments and exhausted but happy faces.

Screenshot from the Juryteam

Thank you to the jury team: Tijen Onaran (CEO Global Digital Women), Jana Kugoth (Editorial Management Tagesspiegel), Dr. Michael Barillère-Scholz (CEO ioki), Dr. Mike Enskat (Head of Energy–Water–Mobility GIZ), Ulli Waltinger (Technology Head of Siemens AI Lab) sowie Dr. Olga Nevska (CEO Telekom Mobility Solution), Claudia Pohlink (Head of AI, T-Labs).

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