Open APIs: Playing the hack pays dividends

“I didn’t care what the prize was and what project we worked on, I just wanted to understand these APIs,” said Ronan Bracken, General Manager, Incognito, about competing in TM Forum’s recent Open Hack. Did he succeed?

Bracken teamed up with four strangers, forming a team called Open Hack Water Saver, which was also the name of the solution they came up with over the 48 hour-duration of the hack. It was designed to encourage citizens to report leaks, dry plant areas and watery breeding sites for mosquitoes so that drones and IoT meters could investigate and report back.

The hackers were given access to an ecosystem platform, TM Forum’s Open API suite plus APIs from Salesforce, data from the city of Nice, and a virtual drone provided by Vodafone. Huawei also made its big data, revenue management and IES network capabilities available (you can read more about the Open Hack here). This was the first time that network slicing was exposed in any global hackathon (as far as TM Forum is aware), which is perhaps the most keenly anticipated capability from 5G.

So how did Bracken and the team fare? They won second place and received two out of the three special mentions made. Presenting the award, TM Forum’s API guru, Pierre Gauthier, stated, “We liked the application, and the use of the APIs. It’s a very useful set of platform services that could be used effectively in my country [Canada] where we face issues about water management and planning.”

Playing with API ‘toys’

Although Bracken says he enjoyed experimenting with the APIs and their possibilities, he had more serious goals in mind. He had been looking at how Incognito could leverage TM Forum’s suite of Open APIs. He says his company offers a product similar to Salesforce and Huawei, and has been keen have recognized conformance with the APIs.

The Open Hack presented a perfect opportunity not only to access the APIs, but to be able to use them with experts at hand to advise and ensure he got the most from his investment of time and effort. It also gave Bracken a good look at what some of market leaders are doing. He says the knowledge he gained will enable his company to move closer to the desired conformance with the Forum’s APIs.

Once the teams were up and running, his team made full use of the experts, including those from TM Forum and from those who’d provided the other technologies. Bracken comments, “The experts available were really committed and engaging, and really helped us in figuring out how to deliver our final solution.”

He adds that they found the APIs easy to use, well set up and that the considerable technologies and hacks available to the contestants made it straightforward for his team to develop their solution.

Playmates and custodians

One strand of the Open Hack was getting to grips with the technology on offer, another was forming teams to work with them on new projects. Any concerns Bracken had about going it alone and getting a project started with strangers evaporated quickly. Instead he found that although many people had arrived in ready-made teams, he was pleased by the fresh team dynamics and the diversity of skills among his team mates.

Bracken says, “It was a great way to share experience, technology and information and getting to learn stuff from each other…I found that that transition was pretty easy actually, I thought they were very welcoming, so that was handled very well.”

TM Forum’s culture of collaboration shone through in the Open Hack from beginning to end, in different ways. From Ronan’s competitor and developer viewpoint, it’s the use of technology, and the skills and experts around him that participants can really revel in.

Find out more about the Open Hack Water Saver in the presentation below. To hack with us in Vancouver on September 25-26, or for further information, find out more about the Open Hack.


    About The Author


    Arti has been writing and editing for seven years in the fields of technology, business and finance. She is particularly interested in how firms are innovating to bring us into the next digital age.

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