TEECOMlabs held our first Hack Week of 2020 March 9-13. It came just as the U.S. began to enter the COVID-19 crisis. It was the week before the Bay Area issued its shelter-in-place order, so some of us were physically in the office, but some of us weren’t able to travel to Oakland under these changing circumstances.
It thus became, unexpectedly, an experiment in holding a hack week with some team members remote. We were able to come together and collaborate in real-time using the technologies all of TEECOM now depends on since our direction to work from home as of March 13. The R&D team made exciting progress with four projects.
“Dude, Where’s My Carbon” begins an effort to measure and reduce TEECOM’s carbon footprint. The app enables individuals to measure the carbon footprint of their commutes across multiple legs and modes.
Of course, with TEECOM now working from home and no one travelling, our carbon footprint is as near zero as it will ever be. When this crisis passes, we will return to shared office spaces and resume business travel, and our footprint will go back up, but we will be looking for lessons learned on how we can find the right balance between minimizing carbon emissions and having the benefit of in-person collaboration.
“Building Layout Engine” (BLE) is a rules-based program that places technology devices in Revit models based on room types and device types. A variant on our work with machine learning, which trains neural networks to place devices, BLE explores the possibility of a designer writing rules based on a conversation with an architect and then populating a Revit model with the press of a button.
“TEECOM Adventures” invites team members to submit photos of TEECOM swag in the wild. We vote on the photos in a Slack channel to select a monthly winner for TEECOM’s Instagram account, as well as a runner up. It encourages our team members to get out there into the wild! Of course, for now, it will have to be somewhere close to home, and they’ll have to keep six feet apart from other adventurers.
We also implemented the Donut Slack app, which matches team members every other week to meet informally. It will help us get to know colleagues we may not work with directly. Under the current circumstances, these meetings will be virtual and will help make up for some of the lack of impromptu socializing that occurs around the office.