Kildare County Council's HACKTHECLIMATE Hackathon

25 June 2024



HACKTHECLIMATE took place at the end of February 2024 in MERITS innovation thinkspace, Naas and was a collaboration between the Innovation & Climate action teams in Kildare County Council and MERITS Tech Hub. It saw entrepreneurs come from across the mid-east, including students from Maynooth University & Trinity College Dublin, all joining forces to create potential solutions to some of Kildare’s most pressing climate issues.


When the original plan was formed for HACKTHECLIMATE, the teams realised the data available for the participants to use was sparse and that the challenge had to be turned on its head. The problem statement was amended and became ‘How to capture climate data in Kildare’ “We realised that asking entrepreneurs to create new solutions for climate problems was putting the cart before the horse, we first needed a way of harnessing clean data, and regularly at that!”.


With the challenge agreed to, the team contacted ‘Open Data’ for some advice, learning from their previous challenges run alongside Dublin City Council and funding!


As part of the process to statutorily develop Kildare County Council Climate Action Plan 2024-2029 a 2018 Baseline Emissions Inventory (BEI) had to be carried out.  Open data sources were vital in this process.  Data was sourced as per table 3-3 below and provided to the participants. Access to the data was also provided through an interactive screen version of the resulting baseline data for the County’s Decarbonising Zone of Maynooth town made available as part of ‘Woven’ project developed by Rudi O’Reilly Meehan - who brings data to life creatively and with beauty.



The availability of this fresh data now allows reactive and real-time decision making by the local authorities regarding 2030 climate action targets.


The 12-hour day of idea generation, invention and business creation began with a number of inspirational and informative speakers, framing the problems Ireland and more locally, Kildare will face if we cannot reach our climate goals and just how important the data is to change our trajectory quickly.


Professor Peter Thorn from Maynooth University spoke about temperatures and rainfall on the Curragh and the different effects water runoff can have with supporting Data from the Irish Climate Analysis and Research UnitS (ICARUS) together withvarious research and Met Eireann’s Alan Murphy, Regional lead at Smart Dublin told the teams about innovative solutions in place in our capital, and how these solutions are already helping with access to the city centre. Professor Brian Caulfield of Trinity College emphasised the need for reductions in traffic and carbon emissions and showed a stark map of Naas town centre and the knock-on effects to air quality using Google Maps as a data source.


Paula O Rourke, Climate Action Co-ordinator with Kildare County Council spoke about the Decarbonised Zone in Maynooth, Kildare’s ‘test bed’ for the newest technology and climate positive ideas, emphasising how we need to hit our targets and the areas of the Climate Action Plan that need most urgent attention.


Kildare County Council’s Innovation Team and Kildare Local Enterprise Office were on hand throughout the day to guide the teams as well as a panel of 10 Climate, Innovation and Technology specific mentors who helped participants focus on their new ideas.


The day produced some innovative ideas, including apps for social good, hardware that accurately tracks energy consumption in your home and a solution to encourage the planting of native Irish trees.


The winning idea on the day was a team of four entrepreneurs from Kildare. Team lead Ben Foran explains the idea “Proactive Paths’ utilises AI to revolutionise route planning.  The algorithm is able to anticipate irregular disruptions such as future road works, protests or public events. By forecasting and navigating around potential delays ahead of time, it significantly improves efficiency, lowering costs for businesses while also taking congestion off our roads.”


The prize of 6 months desk space in MERITS, and €2,500 support from Open Data as well as mentorship from Thunkable developers, has allowed Proactive Paths to develop their platform further and increase the clarity of the data outputs. They will continue to develop their business further with the help of Kildare Local Enterprise Office, MERITS and Kildare County Council’s Climate Action Team, including their first public showcase at Picnic in the Park 2024.