What is a 


A "hack-a-thon"is an event in which information technology experts and others collaborate intensively on projects that could include software development.  Such events are brief and are intended to last only a short period of time (a day, a few days or a week), where participants work intensively, and many times in teams that compete with or collaborate together on new ideas for innovative technology solutions.  A "hack-a-thon" can be customized not just as to its structure, but also by the nature of its participants.  As a Silicon Valley creation of private companies dating back to the late 1990s, the term "hack-a-thon" has taken on new and different applications and meaning, in recent years even being used by and among government agencies to share data and engage in data analytics exercises both internally, as well as externally with private sector partners.

Why Is IATR Hosting A Hack-A-Thon


n the context of transportation policymaking, the IATR intends to host a hack-a-thon for three primary reasons:
  1. to help stimulate discussion among academia, public officials and private industry about technology-based solutions to existing regulatory challenges or service enhancements;  
  2. to allow for the exchange of data by and between transportation and technology industry, government and academia to demonstrate how a greater good is achieved by all stakeholders sharing anonymized and secure data for the purpose of exploring new products, software apps and services; and
  3. to demonstrate how data analysis of taxicab, for-hire vehicle and Transportation Network Company (TNC) data sharing can help guide and enhance future studies, data challenges (i.e., a longer-term hack-a-thon), policy-making and planning.


The registration is now open to participate in the hack-thon.  Please register here
The deadline to register for the hack-a-thon is September 21, 2016.


September 23 - September 24th
(The data would be ready for release at 11:30 am PDT on September 23rd, and will be removed and unavailable as of 11:30 am PDT on September 24th.) 


Following are the hack-a-thon locations:

Hilton San Francisco, Union Square
(11:30 am PDT on September 23rd to 11:30 am PDT on September 24th)
NYIT - New York City Campus

(2:30 pm EDT on September 23rd to 2:30 pm EDT on September 24th)
NYIT - Abu Dhabi Campus
(10:30 pm GST on September 23rd to 10:30 pm GST on September 24th)
Purdue University
(2:30 pm EDT on September 23rd to 2:30 pm EDT on September 24th)

Franciscan Room,
333 O' Farrell Street,
San Francisco, CA 94102

1855 Broadway (corner of 61st street) - Library entrance on the  first floor
(NYIT as well as Non-NYIT students, who MUST bring a valid student ID)
CERT Technology Park, Muroor Road,Next to Dusit Thani Hotel) - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907

What is the IATR Hack-A-Thon Theme & Challenge? 

The IATR hack-a-thon that will take place will involve a theme.  This theme is broad enough to cover many angles and issues, and is intended to involve broad data sets.  The theme of the first-ever IATR hack-a-thon will be based on the focus of the IATR’s 29th Annual Conference being held in San Francisco and hosted by the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA): “21st Century Transportation Regulation – A Vision for Shared Mobility, Multi-Modal Integration & Governance.

The broad challenge is to analyze the provided data sets to propose ideas that promote shared mobility and multi-modal integration, and/or enhance equity in transportation services for disabled passengers and underserved communities, and/or to increase vehicle safety or reduce motor vehicle crashes, utilizing data sets involving the local, national and international data and innovative solutions:

  • Local San Francisco/Bay Area and/or Regional solutions using data obtained from taxicab, limousine and/or Transportation Network Company (TNC) companies, taxicab, limousine and smartphone apps/dispatch companies;
  • National solutions for the United States and/or Canada using data sets obtained from taxicab and limousine companies, government regulators outside San Francisco, trade organizations, TNCs and/or credit card or payment industry providers; and/or
  • International solutions using data obtained from international trade groups, government regulators and/or other private companies to enhance global transportation solutions and travel between countries.

Sample solutions:  The challenge, for now, is couched in broad terms to allow for maximum innovation.  A format for the presentation of ideas and solutions will be provided, and may include but not limited to, prototype apps or software, heatmaps identifying trends and significance of data to identifying problems and regulatory solutions, specific policy recommendations based on the data.  One example could be prediction analytics identifying the probability of drivers to find fares at certain locations and times, based on aggregate data, or proposed pricing or other congestion mitigation strategies to manage peak time taxicab traffic. All solutions will be judged based upon pre-formulated and shared weighting or scoring criteria in the form of a uniform rubric to be provided to those who will judge the submissions, and said scoring criteria will be shared with registered teams and participants. 

Data set examples: The types of data sets that will be analyzed will depend on sponsor and organizational institution participation and availability, but are intended to include: taxicab, limousine and TNC pick-up and drop-off, fare box, geo-hot-spot and other data that is anonymized to protect the identity of the vehicle drivers, owners and passengers, as well as black box or crash data that would analyze when, where and under what circumstances crashes occur involving for-hire vehicles, taxicabs and TNCs.  As sponsors continue to provide data, the data points will be refined and updated through the Hack-A-Thon portal for all registrants and participants.  Here are a few examples of desired data points, but bear in mind the data received could differ, expand or contract based upon final participation:

  • Shared Mobility Ridership data supported by longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates and revenue figures to compute cost-efficiency, origin, destination and fare-splitting data, by micro-transit providers, ride-sourcing (TNCs), taxicabs and for-hire vehicles entities.
  • Multi-Modal Solutions:  Origin and destination data for taxicabs, TNCs and for-hire vehicles, to assess inter-modal integration with public transit gaps or deserts, and last mile service to suburbs or urban sprawl areas, and location based ridership data from mass or public transit to compare and contrast inter-modal usage potential.
  • T-PEP data:  Named after NYC’s Taxicab Passenger Enhancement Program, T-PEP provides pick-up, drop-off, geo-location and fare box data for taxicabs, and can be viewed through this open portal: www.nyc.gov/tlcresearch  Other cities have similar data and government agencies and private companies are encouraged to share this data with the IATR.
  • Equity, Disabled Service & Underserved Communities: Demographic data on areas served by all forms of public and private transit, the applicable fares and the level of response time and service to persons with disabilities (breakdown of ambulatory versus wheelchair users, etc..) 
  • Safety Vehicle on-board diagnostics, black box, app-based or other sources of data that would identify not just the location and severity of actual crashes but locations, near misses or g-force events of significance, and the identification of safety hot spots.
  • Violation or Complaint Data:  Regulatory agency data on number and location of various type of traffic and other service related complaints, passenger complaints, summons and violation data.

What is an “Organizing Institutions” and Where are the “Hack-A-Thon” Locations?

So far, participating organizing academic institutions include --

  • the United States Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Research Center (Region 2) at The City College of New York, of The City University of New;
  • the University of California, Berkeley;
  • NYIT (NYC and Abu Dhabi campuses)
  • Purdue University
  • New York University

Government Agency & Municipal Supporters include:

  • NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission;
  • District of Columbia Department of For-Hire Vehicles;
  • City of Calgary;
  • Philadelphia Parking Authority;
  • TransAd, Abu Dhabi, UAE; and
  • San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

Private Company Sponsors & Other Organizations:

  • International Road Transport Union (IRU);
  • Flywheel;
  • Zendrive;
  • Datatrack 247;
  • CabConnect
  • City Innovative Foundation
  • Karhoo

Regulators, government agencies and/or academic institutions may apply for consideration as an “organizing institution”, which could include either:

  • provide facilities, at no cost to the IATR, to allow students, researchers and public or private entities to access data at and collaborate at their offices or premises on September 23rd; and/or
  • assist in the promotion of the event and transmission of data and team results; and/or
  • provide its own set of data that it legally controls (or which is otherwise public information), to be released for use during the Hack-A-Thon.
  • To date, the SFMTA, City of Calgary and the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission have agreed to serve as regulatory agency organizational institutions and to provide data sets for the hack-a-thon.

So far, locations include NYIT’s Manhattan campus, NYU’s NYC campus and at the San Francisco Hilton where the IATR conference is being held.  Specific addresses and room numbers will be provided to registrants in the near future, as well as additional locations.  In order for participants to utilize the breakout rooms at the IATR conference location, each individual must purchase a discounted day pass or full registration to the conference.  It should be clarified that information will be available only through a single portal or secure web application, and different locations will not have different versions of data.  All data will be uniformly presented and located at the UC Berkeley data library and provided through a singular secure portal.

How to and Who Can Become a “Hack-A-Thon” Sponsor?

A public agency, entity, academic institution and/or private company could volunteer not only to participate and host teams to compete in the Hack-A-Thon, but could also sponsor specific prizes for the winners of the competition.  A la carte sponsorships are available, which include a 25% early bird discount from a Platinum or Gold sponsorship in exchange for the provision of data for the hack-a-thon, or a custom-made sponsorship for extensive data and prizes for winners of the competition, with accompanying recognition and exposure.

What is the Data Storage & Confidentiality Protocol, & Where Will the Data be Stored?

The IATR may have continued access to data sets to build a data commons for further research and development with various universities, including UC, Berkeley and the UTRC at The City College of NY.

How Do I Register and Participate in the 2016 IATR Hack-A-Thon, and When Will the Data Be Released and Available? 

The data would be ready for release at 11:30 am PDT on September 23rd, and will be removed and unavailable as of 11:30 am PDT on September 24th. 

The following are the locations for hacking:

  • Hilton San Francisco Union Square; Franciscan Rooms
  • New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), New York City Campus
  • Purdue University

San Francisco Depending on the number of registered hackers and teams, the IATR may elect to convene a screening committee on September 24th to review proposed solutions and challenge responses in a format to be provided to registered participants. The constitution of any screening committee convened will be limited to organizing institutions (namely academic entities and/or government regulatory agencies) that do not have their own students, staff members or teams participating in the hack-a-thon competition.    The committee of judges will be centralized and organized at the IATR conference (though remote access can be granted).  There will not be separate competitions at each university or separate committees of judges and evaluators. Off-site finalists may be required to present their ideas via teleconference, but in-person attendance at the IATR conference is strongly encouraged by at least one team member if possible to present a solution and/or receive the award. Teams or individuals that are fully registered conference attendees, will be given preference to present their solutions by the screening committee, and the ultimate winners of the challenge will be chosen by the attendees of the conference via anonymous voting through the conference smartphone app or some other voting mechanism. The winners of the IATR hack-a-thon will receive cash, acknowledgment and/or other awards and recognition at a ceremony conducted with San Francisco and IATR officials, at the September 24th evening gala event, the level of acknowledgement depending on pending sponsor commitments.

If hack-a-thon registrants wish to attend the sessions at the conference or take part in scheduled lunches or breakfasts, then they must register. If not – hack-a-thon registration will be free and the attendees will be limited to the hacking room – food on their own, beverages will be provided.  



·       Paper submissions via email or form submissions, that will be reviewed and judged for finalists (or a single finalist, in the discretion of the judges), and for a team or teams to further develop their ideas for the Austin, Texas 2017 IATR conference.  In order to maintain consistency and not provide an unfair advantage, all submissions will be written but judges will have the discretion, in a unified manner when convened, to call and ask questions if needed.

The information to be submitted must include the following:

  • Name of team.
  • Teams can request mentors and are must identified their employment or academic affiliation as professor or student.
  • Contact info. (name of each hacker, e-mail and telephone contact info.), and the best contact number for the days of the event and thereafter for judges to call and ask any follow-up questions after initial scoring;
  • Challenge Question(s) addressed: (1 or more questions can be addressed)
  •  Solution summary: (no more than a paragraph explaining the solution, akin to a published paper abstract).
  •  Data sets utilized 
  • Attach powerpoint or prototype (to be no more than 10 pages).

 The submissions can be sent to the following email address: iatrhackathon@iatr.global


The submissions will be scored on the following criteria:

  • Approach to questions provide potentially valuable solutions that are pragmatic and innovative; (15 points)
  • Presentation of project clearly conveys the approach, methods and potential next steps, addressing the difficulties as well as feasibility of implementing solution and related policies or systemic changes; (15 points)
  • The presentation appropriately sets forth a proposed business model with public and private benefit (i.e., a path to profitability or valuation, a source or sources of public subsidies, and/or Public Private Partnerships – P3); (15 points)
  • The overall pros and cons of the ideas presented in terms of benefits and challenges are objectively addressed. (10 points) No changes – looks good


A member or members (in IATR's discretion), will receive an all-expense paid trip to Austin, Texas to further develop their solutions and present to the IATR at its 30th Annual conference.  In addition, cash prizes and internships may be available as well. 

Have a Question?

For general inquiry, please contact us by sending an email to:  iatrhackathon@iatr.global
For questions about data securement, confidentiality and other technical questions please contact Kendra Levine at  kklevine@berkeley.edu or Brook Taye at btaye@iatr.global

Sample Presentation from Phase 1 of the Hack-a-thon that took place in early September:

1. Team name:  GoCar

2. Team members: Wannie (Xiaowan) Yang - UX/UI Designer; Advaita Patel - Computer Science Student in UC Berkeley; Sunny Zhang - Founder of Sunny Marketing PDX

3. Powerpoint Slides: Please click here to access their slides.

4. Solution: GoCar app enables self-driving cars automatically pick up passengers throughout cities and suburbs, helping to solve parking problems, reduce transportation costs and make better use of private vehicles, while car owners make money.