The Thrill of the Challenge and its Unexpected Rewards

WinnerGreenICTBlog2Andreas Kamilaris, winner of ITU’s 2nd Green ICT App Challenge shares with us his story about taking part and what a difference it made to his work and studies. Closing date for the ITU’s 3rd Green ICT App Challenge is 15 July 2013.

I still remember that Sunday evening. I had just returned home when I accidentally saw the call for the 2nd Green ICT Application Challenge, organized by the ITU. As I was doing my Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Cyprus, studying how ICTs can contribute in energy conservation and sustainability, I was regularly checking the latest news and initiatives linked to green applications.

At that time, I was working on a really cool project, called ‘Social Electricity’. It was a Facebook application that aimed to make citizens aware of their personal electrical energy consumption which would then be compared with the corresponding consumption of their friends, as well as with the total consumption in their street, neighborhood, village, city or country where they lived.

Exploiting the psychological phenomenon of normative social influence, consumers were motivated to conserve energy and take steps to reduce their electricity and carbon footprint. I decided to participate in the ITU challenge, and submitted the ‘Social Electricity’ app though I was aware that chances of winning were probably low as it was a competition that would attract a large number of talented participants from across the globe.

Fast forward to a few months later and, caught up in my studies and projects, I had actually totally forgotten about my application for the competition when I received an email explaining that I was the winner! I was very surprised and immediately called my supervisor, Prof. Andreas Pitsillides to tell him the good news. My supervisor was amazed and delighted about the success, considering the size and popularity of ITU.

At that time, it was difficult for me to fully understand this recognition. But after a while, my department posted a full report on its website. Then, there was a post at the main website of the university and in local newspapers. Afterwards, I was invited for radio interviews and then television. It was an amazing experience! The ‘Social Electricity’ application, due to all this promotion, received lots of attention from Cypriot citizens, counting more than 1,000 users and 1,500 supporters. It was something definitely unexpected for a small project.

But the best moment was to come. It was when I was invited to a special ceremony in Paris, in order to receive the award. I traveled there with my supervisor and my girlfriend, and we had a fantastic time. The event was well organized, the talks were very interesting, while the people from ITU really friendly. I strongly encourage you people, if you have a nice idea for an ICT application that will help build Smart Sustainable Cities, to participate in the 3rd Green ICT Application Challenge. And if you are the winner, maybe you will recall this article and I would be pleased if you would share your feelings with me!

AndreasKamilarisAndreas Kamilaris received a BA degree in Computer Science from University of Cyprus in 2007 and an MS degree in Distributed Systems from the ETH University of Zurich, Switzerland in 2009. In December 2012, he successfully defended his PhD Thesis “Enabling Smart Homes using Web Technologies” at the Computer Science department of the University of Cyprus, under the supervision of Prof. Andreas Pitsillides. His research interests include ICT applications for sustainability, web technologies and sensor networks.

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