Overview… ScotEcoHack and FoodMiles

What? FoodMiles

When? 30th – 31st May 2015

Where? Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI)

Who? Me, James Friel, and Peter Carragher

What About It?

The ScotEcoHack looked set to be a really great hack, well organised (apart from there being no stickers for the event to add to our laptops!) and well advertised. A lot of people signed up for the event but sadly, very few people actually turned up to compete – in fact so few that by lunchtime of the Saturday, the organisers asked everyone if it was even worth running or whether or not to just cancel the rest of it, although fortunately those of us who were there were happy to stay. I’ve got to say that this was a credit to just how many hackathons are currently happening in the UK now that clearly so many people could sign up but value a hackathon so little that they can simply disregard it and not show up.

However, this is no comment on the organisers, who were happy to let us form into a few teams to hack away at projects relating to the environment and the various sponsors challenges. This wasn’t an overnight hack, it was a 2 separate day event, but as there were so few of us it created quite a chilled out, friendly atmosphere which was a nice balance to the normal intensity of hackathons.

Anyway, we had come as a pre-formed team with an idea of James’ to create an Android app that would scan barcodes and use this data to search for the origin of the food product and so calculate how many ‘food miles’ were associated with it so as to make people more aware of their carbon footprint and other things.


As ever, I was supposed to do the front end but this time working with Android Studio – first important thing to note here is that I am not an Android phone user and my laptop was not best-pleased at trying to run that emulator without crashing. I followed lots of tutorials, spent the time waiting for loading messing around with hand-drawn designs and even a logo, but alas didn’t contribute much output by the end of the event. I had however learned a lot and James and Peter had managed to create a (messy) working back-end. I didn’t feel too bad, as the pressure was somewhat relieved by the lack of attendees overall.

In the end we did actually win first prize and received a Pebble Watch each – I decided to keep this one to hack on at a later date.


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