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Hackers Create Tools to Ease Area Congestion at First Chicago Logistics Hackathon

May 22, 2013

World Business Chicago (WBC) hosted the first ever Logistics Hackathon at 1871 over the weekend. The Hackathon connected leaders from the region’s transportation and logistics companies to its thriving tech community, generating innovative tools to impact the transportation and logistics landscape and ease area congestion.

More than 40 participants, including students, technology-focused industry professionals and entrepreneurs spent the day utilizing data from Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the City of Chicago’s open data portal, Coyote Logistics and HERE in order to create tools that will have an effect on the region’s logistics industry.

The Hackathon resulted in three concepts that bring original ideas into one of Chicago’s greatest challenges – congestion:

First place: Team “Get it Done” worked on a concept for a program called Better Routes. The team tackled the problem that travel time estimators don’t take into account the severity of a traffic incident – there is no way to distinguish between a minor fender bender that will be resolved in 10 minutes, and a rolled over tractor trailer that may impact traffic for several hours. As a result, travel time estimators cannot take into account how much traffic might change while a driver is en route. The Better Routes program suggests a GPS app for drivers to assess the severity of traffic using a simple red/yellow/green scale. Better Routes compiles those ratings and makes better estimates about how long a particular traffic incident is likely to last, and if drivers departing now still need to factor it in to their travel time.

Second place: Team Coyote worked on a program to choose the most efficient time of day to depart with a freight load based on traffic conditions. Their program compared whether it is better to leave now (and possibly sit in traffic) or leave at a later time based on historic congestion data and current traffic conditions. The program calculated the fuel and cost savings based on departing at the optimized time.

Third place: Team DePaul also worked on a program to choose the most efficient time of day to depart with a freight load based on traffic conditions. Their program looked at logistics industry data to match the most common origins and destinations for freight trucks, and then recommended the best time of day, on average, to depart for a delivery between those two cities based on historical traffic condition.

Judges included Bill Driegert, Coyote Logistics CIO; Eric Olson, WBC Deputy Director of Plan Implementation; Sameer Dodhadwala, Unbranded Designs CEO; and Robby Nathan, Load Delivered Logistics CEO. The winning teams received cash prizes, and the opportunity to present to executive leadership at Coyote Logistics and HERE, a Nokia business unit.

"This an exciting time for Chicago and our industry. Being able to create and support innovation is critical to maintaining Chicago as a top transportation and logistics hub - I believe the Hackathon was a big step in that direction,” said Robby Nathan, Load Delivered Logistics CEO. “We were highly impressed with the creativity brought forth at the Hackathon and eager to continue pushing the synergy between logistics and technology."

The Hackathon also provided networking opportunities and a chance to hear from innovative transportation leaders including speakers, Gabe Klein and Bill Driegert.

"Logistics needs new ideas. Modern logistics problems are too complex to be solved without technology, and the solutions have compelling real world social and economic benefits. Congestion is an economic issue and a quality of life issue,” said Bill Driegert, Coyote Logistics CIO. “The first Chicago Logistics Hackathon provided the perfect venue to bring logisticians and technologists together to work on these tough challenges."

Continuing to grow its position as a leading transportation and logistics hub is a key strategy of Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, a roadmap for WBC, developed at the request of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Chicago’s transportation and logistics industry accounts for $14 billion in GRP, with a projected growth rate of 3.4 percent. Chicago is the only city in the nation where six of the major North American railroads intersect. Roughly 25% of all domestic rail freight originates in, terminates at or passes through the region.

The Plan suggests that Chicago must prioritize reducing congestion and supporting the firms and industries that are poised to capture future innovations within the sector. By bringing together transportation and logistics industry leaders, and making connections between them and emerging talent, WBC is helping to create an environment where these companies can flourish.

Sponsors of the Logistics Hackathon include Coyote Logistics, DSC Logistics, HERE, a Nokia business unit, and Load Delivered Logistics. Partner organizations include 1871, CDOT, CMAP and the Supply and Value Chain Center of the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola.


World Business Chicago (WBC) leads Chicago’s business retention, attraction and expansion efforts and raises the city’s position as a premier global business destination. Chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, WBC fosters private sector growth through the advancement of a business-friendly environment that attracts world class talent.


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