So many problems, so little time. Unpicking a world of environmental problems through smart tech is a massive topic and the crew, comprised of experts in Internet of Things (IoT), designers, engineers, computer scientists and marketers, at 1st Assembly’s IDEAHACK went into it guns blazing. IDEAHACK explores the technology, opportunities, impact and customer sets within a set theme – on this occasion EnviroTech in preparation for Startup Weekend Environment.

KotahiNet founder Vikram Kumar opened the day with a insightful talk on the potential of IoT within the environment through a five-tiered approach to tech innovation. Vikram talked about the power of $100 micro-sensors that replace $10,000 technology solutions in primary industry, tackling horticulture, biomass production, viticulture to name just a few. This perspective was balanced perfectly with  Jason Mitchell, Industrial Designer and Design Lecturer at Massey University, provided a design driven approach to the day which founded the creative process and thinking.


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Image above : One team mapping out the problems and opportunities 


The group then broke into teams – the assembled brilliance tackled two topics focused on the environmental problems of the everyday, energy production and consumption and food production and waste management. The two teams explored the pain points within theses areas by focusing acute needs and characteristics that embodied each space. The discussion quickly came down to three refined directions and opportunities –  energy used to dry things, household chemicals that go down the drain and redirecting and subverting food purchasing habits.

Toward the end of the day, the teams looked into the technologies available and commonplace in these areas, and what other configurations of tech, data, user interfaces could be employed to have greater impact in the problem areas. Mixing up the teams, we got specific on breaking down customer sets, available tech, and the analysis of human behaviour.

Ultimately the day set people up to head into Startup Weekend Environment with some informed ideas about what could be achieved, what barriers were likely to be encountered and really WHO their customers were. Where the thinking got to? It got pretty niche – with the whiteboard full of things like how we use steam and humidity power in the home i.e. reuse of water vapour and supermarkets role in using their data for educating and empowering responsible consumption.

Three takeaways from Envirotech IDEAHACK @ 1st Assembly :

1. Data capture through smart technologies is about 1% of the solution
2. Data analysis represents 19% of the solution
3. The remaining 80% represents how the analysis is communicated and applied

Ultimately, single streams of data are useful, but the potential of integrated data sets over time, accessible through customer-centric interfaces, is phenomenal in terms of understanding complex ecosystems, inputs and interdependencies and optimising the impact and value of solutions. Taking a massive concept and picking a customer set is a great way to establish a useful focus quickly. Especially when you have a diverse group of awesome talent helping you work the creative process!

Go Go Startup Weekend!