A little over a month ago, we were pleased to hear that several of the winners of the Imagine Cup 2012 U.S. Finals competition submitted projects related to improving public health and lessening society’s impact on the environment. One project in particular – Flashfood – really fascinated us.
Developed by a group of students from Arizona State University using Microsoft technologies like Windows Phone, Silverlight, and SMS texting, Flashfood is a real-time food recovery solution that coordinates same-day deliveries of uneaten restaurant food to needy families nearby.
When implemented, the tool uses web applications and smartphones to identify businesses, restaurants, and caterers with a surplus of perishable food and transport the food to hungry families and communities.
By creating Flashfood, the team hopes not only to put healthier meals on people’s tables but to bridge the gap between those with an abundance of leftover perishable food and those who can only afford to purchase less nutritious food.
Another important benefit of the project is its ability to significantly reduce the amount of food waste being sent to landfills each year. As of 2009, reports showed that more than 30 million tons of food is sent to landfills each year. Flashfood would take steps toward minimizing this amount and also help reduce the amount of water and fossil fuel resources associated with food waste. In addition, by decreasing the amount of food sent to landfills, this tool will reduce the amount of methane – which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – that is released into the atmosphere when food rots.
Other environmentally-conscious projects earning top honors included those from:
- Dr. Fishbowl from Carnegie Mellon University developed a game that educates players about sustainability and how to be more responsible about waste and byproducts.
- Team Digital Infinity from Springbrook High School designed a game that uses sustainable energy sources like rivers and windmills to create electricity for energy-starved cities.
- Team Zigers from University of Houston created a game to teach players about the harm caused by oil spills in the ocean and how to clean them up.
Now in its tenth year, the Imagine Cup is a Microsoft-sponsored global competition with more than 358,000 students representing 183 countries and regions entering the competition last year. The Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals will be held in Sydney, Australia, July 6 to 10. To learn more about the Imagine Cup and other finalists, please visit the Imagine Cup website.