We were at the beginning of March. The British Columbia Aqua Forum team was working hard to deliver the first AquaHacking semi-final in western Canada. Preparations were well underway. More than 25 teams were expected and nearly 200 people had confirmed their presence in Kelowna to attend this landmark event of the competition.
However, something of global significance was to upset the plans: the pandemic.
On March 17th, 2020, the government announced a ban on assembly. 5 days before the event, the team had to quickly make a decision for the next steps: cancel the semi-final, or try to adapt the competition virtually. It was, after all, a major step in the journey of participants who had been working on their technological solution projects for several months.
With the current COVID-19 epidemic, Aqua Forum and its partners had made sure to adapt their plan quickly. Indeed, the whole team had to be reactive to follow the directives of health officials and governments.
The Okanagan Water Board and Aqua Forum have shown exemplary technical agility in dealing with the situation by performing a 100% virtual pivot for this event. The adaptive capacity of the entire organization has been exceptional. To this end, in just five days, the organizers have accomplished the feat of adapting the event and making it a 100% virtual semi-final.
The de Gaspé Beaubien family could not be more proud of all the stakeholders as well as the different regional teams. “I couldn’t be more proud to see the adaptive capacity of the teams in such a short time. I would like to thank each of the teams and all of our partners for their colossal efforts in this time of crisis.” Said Mrs. de Gaspé Beaubien.
The live broadcast on Facebook and the use of other videoconferencing technologies helped keep the original programming safe and responsible. The de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation believes that, despite the critical global situation, we must maximize the use of technologies. It is also important to continue to focus on environmental programs.
In addition, the 27 AquaHacker teams from across Canada presented their solutions to the judges via virtual rooms. There was a virtual lounge for those who were waiting their turn, including videos, quizzes and much more. The 15 judges also agreed to continue the adventure in webcasting and the invaluable sponsors that all contributed to the continuation of the plan virtually.
The de Gaspé Beaubien family would like to congratulate the OBWB team for their openness to venture into this sudden change. Through their audacity, they demonstrated the feasibility of a 100% virtual challenge and thus, saved the AquaHacking initiative and its future. Now, all that remains is to make constant improvements to the next semi-finals in Winnipeg and the Atlantic.
To ensure the streaming quality of the challenges and thereby standardize the brand image of AquaHacking, Aqua Forum has mandated the firm TKNL which will ensure the production of virtual events on a national scale. This is a collaboration that looks promising!
While the safety of participants has been ensured by adapting the event virtually, the situation also demonstrated that, despite social distancing, it is possible to continue efforts aimed at saving the country’s fresh water. This virtual event also contributes to increasing the scope of the AquaHacking challenge worldwide. This technological innovation is an interesting format of the AquaHacking competition.
In a virtual science fair-style event, the teams presented their solutions to the members of the jury.
The 5 finalist teams for the AquaHacking British Columbia semi-final are:
The AquaHacking British Columbia Challenge is one of three programs taking place in Canada this year. The next semi-finals will take place in Winnipeg on (June 10th, 2020) and Atlantic Canada on (June 18th, 2020). In addition, the grand finale of the AquaHacking British Columbia challenge will be held on June 25th to finalize this adventure that the 5 finalists have been living for almost a year now.
While currently, no one can predict how the next few weeks will unfold, the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation has full confidence in the adaptive capacity of the Aqua Forum team and ecosystem.
To watch the 100% virtual semi-final, click here.AquaHacking Launched in Winnipeg
It’s with great pride that the de Gaspé Beaubien family foundation attended the official launch of the AquaHacking Lake Winnipeg Challenge on January 31st. Live from the DisruptED event at the RBC Convention Center, high-profile speakers had the chance to share their in-depth knowledge of innovation, creativity, artificial intelligence and the human side of technology.
It is clear that the state of Canada’s water is in danger. Lake Winnipeg, one of the largest freshwater rivers in the world, is no exception. Since the preservation of water quality is a priority for the de Gaspé Beaubien family, it went without saying that supporting a Challenge that would aim to preserve and improve the water of this region through sustainable actions and changes aligned well with the Foundation’s goals.
This new edition of the Challenge is presented by IISD (International Institute of Sustainable Department), a local management partner based in Winnipeg for over 30 years. The primary mission of this institution, made up of researchers from around the world, is to conduct research on climate and water issues. Through research, analysis and international expertise, IISD identifies and defends sustainable solutions. By joining the AquaHacking Challenge, the organization becomes a launchpad for the development and deployment of concrete and innovative actions for freshwater issues.
AquaHacking stakeholders are very excited about this collaboration. “We are proud to be associated with this great organization, IISD, and we are very excited to energize the technology sector with new initiatives in the Manitoba region, whose technology sector is currently in full swing.” Said Dominique Monchamp, senior advisor to the de Gaspé Beaubien foundation.
The family was delighted to welcome a member of the AquaHacking alumni community, Dr. Robert Liang, CEO and founder of WaterPuris, as a guest of the conference and Lake Winnipeg AquaHacking Challenge Kick-Off. Dr. Liang presented his technology developed during the AquaHacking 2018 Challenge. His presence was a real inspiration for the next generation of young hackers.
The next generation is a precious source of inspiration and innovation for the de Gaspé Beaubien family. This is why AquaHacking recruits and encourages new players to think about issues related to freshwater. The Challenge teams are made up of committed and creative minds, students, water researchers, developers, designers, scientists, programmers, engineers, technology enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs. A common motivation unites these individuals with distinct areas of expertise, namely the undeniable concern for the fate of Lake Winnipeg and its ecosystem.
The five water issues associated with the AquaHacking Lake Winnipeg Challenge were officially revealed to participants at the DisruptED conference. Participating hackers can access informative webinars that describe each of the issues by water experts. These videos explore the issues in detail and assist participants in their selection of the subject they will address during the Challenge.
During the AquaHacking Lake Winnipeg Challenge, hackers are tasked to develop exciting and innovative solutions for the following five issues:
In closing, it is with this vision that the de Gaspé Beaubien family launched the AquaHacking Challenge in 2015. The fate of tomorrow’s world must be taken in hand today. We all have a responsibility as Canadian citizens. The family believes in the innovative and inspiring talent of young Canadians and is honored to witness the growth of the 17 startups active to date since the launch of the AquaHacking Challenge 5 years ago.