On May 8 and 9, dozens of students will be hacking data in the TU Library. (Image: Jasper Poortvliet)
On May 8 and 9, dozens of students will be hacking data in the TU Library. (Image: Jasper Poortvliet)

Better order a lot of energy drinks! During a weekend hackathon, students are going to crunch data in the hope of finding a way out of the campus lockdown.

Lees in het Nederlands

With apps and sensors in the library, traffic experts at TU Delft have collected a treasure trove of data in the past few months about flows of visitors in the TU Library. How close do people approach each other, how long do they remain in each other’s vicinity, what are the critical points and moments? The research has revealed that 220 people can be inside at the same time without any serious problems arising: without the one-and-a-half-meter rule being breached.

But transport & planning students (Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences) feel that much more can be distilled from the data. They are organising a hackathon on Saturday and Sunday, May 8 and 9, to cast a fresh eye over the data. They hope to develop creative plans that will allow the campus to be open again as soon as possible.

Modeling pedestrian flows
“We can probably put all of the data about how people move through the TU Library into models,” explained student Jasper Poortvliet, who conceived the plan for the hackathon. Thinking out loud, he added, “Maybe we can then apply the models to other buildings on the campus. The parameters would have to be adjusted, like number of square metres, locations of toilets, length of corridors, and location of the coffee corner.”

But the hackathon will go further than just building models. “Apps and physical products; actually, everything the participants can come up with to manage student flows is welcome.”

Poortvliet and his fellow students hope to welcome an army of fifty hackers on May 8 and 9, from a variety of study programmes. Divided into groups, and after being tested for corona, they will be shut up in the library for two full working days, from 8:00 to 20:00.  Fueled by pizza and energy drinks, their pale faces will stare at computer screens, puzzling over the one-and-a-half-meter rule and how the swarms of people on the campus can be fitted into the restrictions. “Fine with me if it turns into that kind of weekend,” said Poortvliet. “Then I would consider the hackathon a success.”

For more information: j.f.poortvliet@student.tudelft.nl