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SLU Innovation Challenge

Hosted by the Department of Innovation and partners, an innovative technology challenge is held each year at Saint Louis University. The challenge:

  • Encourages accessible applications of innovative technologies that advance the University's strategic plan.
  • Fosters student curiosity and ingenuity.
  • Recognizes and awards pioneering ideas
  • Creates collaborative student and faculty cohorts around shared interests.

2020-2021 Innovation Challenge

The Department of Innovation, Information Technology Services and the Geospatial Institute (GeoSLU) are now accepting proposals for the 2020-2021 Innovation Challenge. The focus of this year’s challenge is the innovative application of open source geospatial data and/or tools to address a problem.

View the Recorded Information Session

View the Challenge Announcement

2020 Innovation Challenge

The 2020 challenge focused on applications of Geospatial Technology and Geospatial Information Systems (GIS). SLU recently founded the Geospatial Institute to accelerate research, training, and innovation in geospatial science and technology.

Through its partnerships with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) and industry leaders like Esri, Saint Louis University is uniquely positioned to advance our city's proud geospatial heritage that stretches back to the mapping of the Louisiana territory in 1806. This challenge honors that pioneering spirit and commitment to advancing the frontier of science and technology.

Successful teams received a cash prize and invitation to both present their project and participate in an upcoming geospatial-focused cohort of the SLUStart entrepreneurship program.

2020 Teams

 Balloon Technology for Cheaper Cell Towers

Team Members

Project Summary

We sought to create a first-generation prototype of a cheaper alternative for cell towers using a balloon, mainly to be used during emergency situations when mainstream towers are down. We developed a battery-powered circuit to power and charge Arduino controlled RF receivers and transmitters to relay messages between first responders and victims of crisis.

We lifted the system into the air using a helium-filled balloon, with the payload beneath. Further improvements could be made by increasing structural integrity, using higher-end equipment, adding solar panels, and implementing a secure communication protocol.

Project Presentation

SLU 2020 Geospatial Innovation Challenge - Cheaper Alternative for Cell Towers Using Balloons 

Spatial Prediction of Freeway Accidents Using Machine Learning Technique

Team Members

Project Summary

 The proposed approach in this project was used to develop accident prediction models for a 4.91-mile segment of Interstate 270 in St. Louis, Missouri. The developed models will help the transportation agencies to proactively allocate their resources in anticipation of roadway accidents.

Random Forest, a Machine Learning Method built-in ArcGIS Pro was used to develop the prediction models. Overall, the performance of the Random Forest model's ability to estimate the location of traffic accidents was satisfactory and outperformed the performance measures reported for accident prediction outlined in the literature.

Project Presentation

SLU 2020 Geospatial Innovation Challenge - Public Space Management

Detection of Free Spots in Public Spaces

Team Members

  • Abhinav Kumar , Parks College of Engineering Aviation and Technology
  • Eric Suter , Parks College of Engineering Aviation and Technology

Project Summary

With neural networks and machine learning becoming increasingly accessible, the technology can be applied for every-day use in public spaces to openly share useful information.

For our project, a small, self-sufficient internet-of-things device with a camera can determine whether a seat in a public space is currently occupied or predict when it will become vacant. Combined with geospatial data such as a 3D-scan of the space the device is in, the collected information can effectively communicate to end-users the availability of a certain location.

Project Presentation

 SLU 2020 Geospatial Innovation Challenge - Public Space Management