11-04-2019

The Odyssey Hackathon: Terence van Zoelen

The third edition of the biggest Blockchain and A.I. hackathon is just around the corner. A whopping 100 teams will be building prototypes this weekend, to address 20 complex challenges, with 1,500 people expected to attend the hackathon. City Council Member and Java consultant Terence van Zoelen is a real veteran, having competed in all three editions. So what’s it like to compete? And what will he be working on this year?

With his consulting company Jaav, Terence combines his expertise in programming language Java and Blockchain applications. He’s also a newly appointed City Council Member for the Partij voor de Dieren (Party for the Animals) in Groningen. Last year, his team participated in the Pension Track won Best Code Quality. For this year, Terence joined Team Arceus for the Nature 2.0 track.

Blockchain

“I love the atmosphere and it’s getting a little bigger and more mature every year”, Terence says. “And it’s a lot of fun to work alongside people from all over the world. The first time really sparked my interest in Blockchain, which I now combine with Java in my consulting work. I think it’s important to do things that have environmental and societal relevance. We still have a long way to go before Blockchain technology is commonplace, but there’s a lot of potential.”

Nature 2.0

Team Arceus has signed up for the Nature 2.0 track, which aims for an ownerless layer of natural resources and intelligent agents to promote sustainable public utilities in a world of abundance. Kryha, last year’s winner, built a prototype for a hive mind platform for drones. This collective intelligence for robots (e.g. drones) could be tasked with aerial observations, exploration missions, disaster impact analysis, search & rescue missions and even rebuilding cities

“It’s a track with less competition than pensions or logistics”, Terence says. “In previous years, most of the work was done during the Hackathon. But this year, you can do a lot of work in advance.”

The value of trees

The team originally wanted to work on a complementary coin, but decided to focus on the value of trees. “We want to quantify the ecological and emotional value of trees. So in other words, what is a tree worth in an ecosystem? How does a single tree contribute to the biodiversity of the area? If you cut one down, it can affect the plant and animal life for example. We’re working with a large dataset of trees in Groningen and Blockchain can be a really transparent way to build a platform around that.”

Environmental and societal relevance

So what could be possible applications? “Compensating for cutting down trees for example”, Terence explains. “And maybe find ways to generate money for maintenance. If you look at emissions trading and the CO2 certificates, we could create a transparent way for companies to donate directly to people or institutions responsible for planting and maintenance. We’re also working on A.I. based image recognition for drones, so you can check the health of the canopy for example.”

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