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In September of this year, CiviTechSA and SmartSA partnered up, along with Geekdom and San Antonio’s Office of Innovation, to host a city-wide Datathon in which never-before-seen data would be released to challengers in the competition. The primary goal of the Datathon was to incentivize the tech savvy minds in San Antonio to bring innovative tools which would aid residents in the areas of transportation, sustainability, and access to services.
On hearing of this event and the opportunity to offer up sustainable solutions to San Antonio residents, the team at Braustin couldn’t help but enter the competition. They partnered up with College Station A&M graduate student Anish Vaidya, who recently completed his Master’s Degree in Engineering, to begin working on a proposal to the city.
With the utility usage data provided, Braustin and Vaidya were then able to cross reference information from the Bexar County Appraisal District to determine average utility costs for an entire range of home sizes and ages. Using a “widget” of sorts, potential home buyers, and even home owners, could cost compare their expected utility costs with that of other homes by square footage and year the home was built.
The idea behind building this tool is to promote the sustainability of home ownership with the understanding that when most home buyers decide on their home, they have no idea what their utility costs will be, possibly leading to higher monthly expenses than budgeted for, and in the most unfortunate cases, foreclosure. For current home owners, the tool could impact a positive leaning toward energy efficient upgrades in those owning older, inefficient homes when the savings in energy costs can be accessed and viewed easily online.
Older homes tend to have single pane windows and lower rated insulation than newer homes with energy efficient windows and up-to-date building materials. The difference in the utility efficiency of these homes is real, and the tool proposed by the Braustin team will, at the very least, illustrate this difference to potential home buyers who need to accurately budget their home mortgage with other living expenses. And will benefit, more broadly, the city of San Antonio, as home owners become more aware of energy and resource usage and the importance of pursuing energy efficiency and conservancy.
Out of the 32 submissions received, only 7 have been selected to present in the final competition, taking place at Geekdom this coming weekend, October 19th-21st. The Datathon prize winners will be announced after all finalists have had the opportunity to present their ideas to the SmartSA panel of judges. The Grand Prize winner is set to receive $15,000 toward the finalization of the tool created during Datathon as well as a contract with the city to begin implementing its use. There will also be two runners up who will receive $2,500—a prize for “Most Insightful” and “Most Compelling”.
The Braustin Team is excited to see the other innovative contributions made by all the participants. Our passion is in affordable housing, sustainability in home ownership, and of course, technology! And we are proud to be part of an effort to bring solutions for these to the city of San Antonio.
We want to offer a special thank you to Anish Vaidya for his expertise in helping develop and bring to life this new resource for San Antonio residents. With his Master’s degree in one hand and passion in the other, he hopes to find a place with a company focused on machine learning or artificial intelligence.
Stay tuned on our Facebook page this weekend as the Datathon comes to a close and the winners are announced. We know that with all the great minds in San Antonio, there is sure to be some stiff competition.
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