Poland Takes Lead in Fight Against Smog

2016 Smogathon Participants (Smogathon)

Poland – In its third year running, Smogathon is an initiative founded by Polish entrepreneur Maciej Rys with the aim of fighting pollution through technology and it is fast making Poland a world leader in the fight against smog. 

Two previous editions of the initiative saw smog gobbling moss walls and special air quality sensors receiving awards.

None of the past editions was, however, as international as this year with a total of $100 000 in prize money.

"We say no to the local and global smog war, which is resulting in about 7 million people a year dying prematurely," says Maciej Rys.

Smogathon started back in 2015 as a multidisciplinary 24 hour hackathon and was inspired by the heavy smog and pollutants that had gripped the city of Krakow during autumn. Then teams of scientists, developers, designers, entrepreneurs, sociologists, marketers, as well as students and other professionals, worked to create specific, practical and implementable solutions to fight air pollution. Out of 250 participants who made up 13 teams 8 finalist teams were nominated to pitch their projects to the city’s authorities and five of them took awards home.

The 2016 edition of Smogathon was in the form of a boot camp with teams from all over the world. Top ten projects made it to the final with a total prize of $25 000 at stake.

“In 2017, we once again decided to take things to the next level by organizing the third edition of Smogathon in the form of a truly international contest with semi-finals in five locations around the world: Warsaw (Poland), London (UK), Berkeley (USA), Bangalore (India) and Hong Kong (China), and a final in Krakow (Poland),” Smogathon say on their website.

Teams from all over the world had from June 15, 2017 until August 15, 2017 to sign up for one of the five semi-finals.

"We have invited experts from the scientific and technological worlds, as well as business, administration, NGO and investors," says Kamila Knap, co-organizer of Smogathon. 

In each of the international semi-finals two top teams will be selected to proceed to the finals in Krakow. In addition, two projects selected from online submissions by teams that are unable to attend semi-finals in their region will be progressed to the final.  

"We want to bring together the best ideas from around the world and make them available to the general public during the final," Kamila adds. 

The Smogathon final will be held on 25 and 26 November 2017 in Krakow and the winner will be announced a day later.

"We chose this city not only because Smogathon started here," says Maciej Rys, “one of the solutions launched by the 2015 hackathon - a network of cheap air quality sensors - is used today in Poland. In Krakow alone there are over 100 Airly air quality sensors.”  

Rys also reveals that the capital of Malopolska has undertaken decisive actions aimed at eliminating the problem of smog. He adds that there is a good chance that in the next 5 to10 years, Polish cities will look at Krakow as a pioneer in the battle for clean air. 

Explaining about the prize Rys says, “the winning team will receive $100 000 of which 75% will be used to implement the solution in Krakow and the team takes away 25%.”  

The Smogathon final gala on November 27, 2017 will be held on the sidelines of the Global Clean Air Summit.