Presidential Hackathon International began in 2019 and is in its fourth year. So far, civic hackers from 36 countries have taken part in this special event. As the name suggests, the purpose of PHI is to invite civic hackers to come up with global solutions using open data. From the preliminary round to the final, the results of collaborative efforts are assessed by the review committee, with the best and brightest invited to the Presidential Office to take part in an award ceremony. Over the years, PHI has created a platform of free exchange for those keen to connect, promote great ideas and have the chance to implement in other parts of the world. If one wishes to collaborate and realize brilliant ideas with like-minded friends at home and abroad, PHI is the only game in town.

In 2020, coronavirus made it difficult for participants from around the globe to come to Taiwan, so PHI that year went online. That experience proved that digital technology is indeed a resilient tool in times of emergency. Through online meetings, real-time communication and collaboration tools, team members can still create and complete this marathon of the mind in physical isolation, and get to know other participants and open up opportunities for borderless communication.

The online link has also given previous participating teams an opportunity to share experiences directly with friends interested in signing up. This year, the Show and Learn webinar was staged March 30, Taiwan time, and featured keynoter A/B Street–one of the outstanding teams of the 2021 edition. Last year, A/B Street proposed Ungap the Map, an open-source interactive bicycle map, with the goal of making it easier for government agencies, transportation planners, cycle promotion groups and the public to plan cycling routes, striking a balance between safety, convenience and undulating road sections, while encouraging more people to take up cycling to reduce CO2 emissions. The team also designed a 15-minute Santa’s Mission simulation game to help users familiarize with map functions and experience the needs of bicycle users in the city.

Through open source and gamification practices, and in line with the 2021 theme Sustainability 2.0 - Climate Action, A/B Street demonstrated an innovative and interesting way of implementing related ideas. The 2022 international hackathon builds continues last year’s agenda with the theme Climate Action: Practicing Net Zero.

The 2015 Paris Agreement saw many countries declare nationally determined contributions to reducing carbon emissions. The 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) further urged countries to reduce the use of fossil fuels, and invited global citizens to brainstorm and employ cities as units of action to devise specific proposals on how to slash greenhouse gasses and limit global warming to between 1.5°C and 2°C.

As the A/B Street project demonstrated, whether it is the city’s transportation system, waste or sanitation, everything is related to carbon emissions. For this reason, Presidential Hackathon International is accepting submissions and will close May 23 Taiwan time. Experts in different fields, as well as hackers and global citizens interested in joining the growing Taiwan Can Help movement of achieving the net-zero goal are welcome to partner, participate and make your creativity a gift to our world.