Open 17 Challenge, Then and Now: A Look back into Past Participants and the Promising Ideas Pitched this Year

Earlier in March, we announced the Open Seventeen 2020 challenge. We invited everyone to submit a pitch on Goodwall, explaining how they plan to use AI and crowdsourcing to solve one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

A few days later, news of the Covid-19 pandemic made headlines around the world.

Despite that, you all rose to the challenge. 

As one of the organizers for the Open 17 challenge, Goodwall was able to collect hundreds of ideas through the app’s easy 30-second video pitch feature. 

If this were a typical contest, we might’ve been delayed because of the lockdown and quarantine announcements. We might have had less participants as students shift their attention towards other worries. 

But thanks to our active community, we amassed a lot of unique and amazing ideas to predict landslides, improve food recycling, estimate river flows, and more.

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Opportunities Don’t Stop Just because the World is in Crisis

Goodwall, in collaboration with Citizen Cyberlab, AI for Good, and the Geneva  Tsinghua Initiative, reviewed many promising ideas. Participants got feedback from their peers and made new connections as a result. 

Pretty productive, considering almost everyone is stuck at home.

We live in interesting times. 

Pandemic or not, we have the technology and capability to learn and create innovative solutions from the comfort of our home. 

Prof. Francois Grey, co-founder of the Open 17 challenge, said, “It was an ‘aha’ moment (for us). We saw students from India to Mexico, and Sweden to Chile, all in lockdown, all suddenly realizing that they could be a part of a global classroom without leaving their apartments.”

Whether you’re a senior in high school, college student, or young professional, there are opportunities you can pursue straight from your bedroom. 

Below are just a few of the cool ideas we collected as part of this challenge.

Open 17 2020 Challenge Pitch Ideas from Goodwallers

1. Reducing Food Wastage and Hunger by Kevin Adea

Kevin plans to use crowdsourcing to collect information on the food wastage and deficit of each city or country. He will then use AI to create a report of which places have a surplus of food, and which have a shortage. 

The AI created will be used to pair places with food shortage to those that have a surplus of to create a balanced food distribution network and minimize waste at the same time.

2. Landslide Prediction by Suchit Patel and Shalini Radhakrishnan

Suchit and Shalani suggested using past landslide data, and AI to evaluate tree density, soil composition, amount of vibration nearby, and average rainfall. 

They will use these data to create preventive measures and guidelines that will improve the construction of railways, houses, and roads. The duo also plans to launch a reforestation program to prevent landslides in the future.

3. PlantumAI Tackles Sustainable Farming by Neil Deshmukh

Neil’s idea is to use AI and crowdsourcing to simultaneously solve hunger and farming problems at the same time.

Big farming companies overuse pesticide, which contributes to our water supply and soil’s toxicity. Neil suggests that AI can solve this problem by combining images of crop disease and associated production models to track and predict the progression of diseases in produce.

He’s also working on creating a real-time AI sensor analysis that can be used by farms to protect their crops from pests and diseases, without over relying on pesticide.  

4. Urban Crowdsourced Farming Using the Groundy App by Valentin Endeiza

Valentin created the Groundy App to help people build urban gardens and network with other gardeners to create events of their own. 

People with their own pocket gardens at home usually end up with a surplus of produce from their plants. With Groundy app, Valentin plans to combine crowdsourced user data and AI to help urban gardeners get in touch with each other, so they can share planting trips, barter crops, or even create a local farmer’s market in their neighborhood.

Valentin knows global warming could lead to food shortage in the future. But if more people plant their own produce, that will greatly reduce food shortage and hunger for many countries. That much is obvious.

So when asked what inspired him to create the app and pitch this specific idea, Valentin also mentioned the underlying benefits of urban farming.

Valentin suggests people lack education on the importance of healthy eating habits. You can blame it on fast food, our eating cultures, or people’s lack of knowledge on where their food comes from. 

Whatever it is, the more people know where their food comes from, and how hard it is to grow it, the more they will appreciate the value of what they eat.

Valentin suggests that urban farming won’t just solve our food shortage problems, it can also increase people’s quality of life and their locale’s economic development. 

Related read: How to Save the Planet by Sharing Ideas on Climate Action

A Look Back on Past Open 17 Challenge Participants

Now you might say that ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s not worth anything unless it’s honed and executed in the right manner.

The Open 17 challenge doesn’t just encourage young students to brainstorm ideas. Chosen participants will receive guidance from the speakers and mentors chosen by the event organizers.

These mentors helped participants clarify their ideas, solve initial challenges, and connect them with people who can take their vision further.

Let’s hear from a few of the past participants of the Open 17 challenge.

A Thorough Curriculum to Transform Ideas into a Tangible Project 

David Michael Doyoung Lee created Motosafe, a motorcycle safety device, in the 2018 Open 17 challenge. 

When you’re starting from scratch, it’s easy to forget critical pieces you need to create a successful project. 

David explains, “Open 17’s curriculum helped us define our mission statement, goals, and business plans, and that helped us transform Motosafe Technology from an idea into a tangible project. It was the perfect way to kick-off our project as they provided us the foundation to build our idea’s prototype.”

More importantly, David and his team also learned how to pitch their prototype and differentiate it from others with a similar vision. 

“The Open 17 challenge unlocked the entrepreneurial side of me,” adds David.

Now he doesn’t just want to work in a lab. He also wants to help companies achieve the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit.

Network with People that will Fulfill Your Vision

Janet Chapman participated in the pilot Open 17 challenge to create Crowd2Map Tanzania, a crowdsourced rural mapping project to plot the schools, hospitals, roads, villages, and buildings of Tanzania.

It’s difficult to map out an entire country, even with a team. 

The pilot Open 17 challenge helped Janet not just in bringing Crowd2Map Tanzania into  reality, but in connecting her with the people that helped organize her first event.

The Open 17 Challenge was great. It put us in touch with so many talented people that helped organize our first mapathon in Dar, London, and Vilnius,” explains Janet.

These aren’t just one-time partnerships born out of the Open 17 challenge. The people Janet found believed in her mission, and has helped her organize ongoing mapathon events since. 

Crowd2Map Tanzania is currently growing strong with a team of over 145,000 volunteers worldwide, with 1600 on-the-ground volunteers adding the names of villages, offices, churches, and clinics using free smartphone apps. 

More Opportunities to Come at Goodwall

The Open 17 Challenge is just one among the many opportunities you’ll find on Goodwall. In fact last February, Giovanna Soto won the Healthcare Impact Award through a pitch she submitted via the Goodwall app.

We also have scholarships, internships, and job opportunities on the app. You can easily apply for them, but make sure you complete your profile first to increase your chances.

Related read: How to Use Goodwall’s Web Profile to Land a Job or Internship Opportunity

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Charley Mendoza
Written By Charley Mendoza
Charley is a freelance copywriter and content marketer specializing in career and entrepreneurship. When she’s not stringing words for her latest copywriting project, you’ll find her trying new recipes, or planning yet another trip.

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