Written by Courtney Hadden, Senior Program Manager -- Corporate Sustainability, & Mayank Bansal, Senior Software Engineer, participants in the Microsoft Hackathon
During the week of July 27, thousands of participants from around the globe participated in the Microsoft 2020 Hackathon. In its seventh year -- and this year, fully virtual -- the annual worldwide event brings Microsoft employees and interns together to drum up new ideas, create change, and make a global difference. Microsoft invited a few key customers, like Akamai, to participate.
Microsoft and Akamai have both embarked on massive corporate sustainability programs with bold goals: Microsoft plans to be carbon negative by 2030, and Akamai is working toward carbon neutrality, from our current 50% renewable goal. These programs have brought great awareness of the importance of corporate commitments, but many of us are still left with questions: What can we do as individuals to improve on our carbon footprint, water consumption, and waste management? How can we assist with biodiversity initiatives?
Together, the Hackathon 2020 project decided to develop an app temporarily named "MASH" that helps individuals assess their own personal choices and the effect of those choices on their carbon footprint:
"Our Hackathon 2020 team started by thinking, how is my carbon footprint growing or shrinking? And how do I compare with others around me in terms of my impact on the environment? From there, we decided we wanted to measure something that everyone does every day -- consume food.
We often have a choice about what we eat, and many of us are unaware of the environmental impact of our food choices. To start with, the MASH app contains a personal dashboard, the ability to create teams and competition groups, and scan or log information about your meal as a way to track impact (the hope is to eventually partner with a company like MyFitnessPal for increased usability).
MASH has the ability to scan a food item in your refrigerator or in a store, providing the user with an estimated carbon emission score for that item. The more units for that item, the higher the score, and the more unsustainable that food item is. Based on the user's consumption choice, they will receive points for choosing more sustainable items during the day, with less carbon-intensive effects. Throughout use, the user can achieve sustainable badges and recognition, challenge friends and family to be more sustainable, and -- over time -- maybe even receive actual rewards/awards as well." -- Mayank Bansal
MASH -- along with thousands of other ideas developed worldwide -- will be reviewed by key individuals at Microsoft, with a lens on potential business value and impact. Besides the opportunity to be a part of developing MASH, our team was empowered to make a difference, learn great upskilling, try new things (like learning about carbon emissions!), and feel valued by Akamai for our work. We are excited to be a part of the Microsoft Hackathon and even more excited about what MASH can do to help us all be a bit more environmentally conscious.
To learn more about Akamai's sustainability commitments, visit akamai.com/sustainability.