What is the CERN Webfest?
Each year since 2012, CERN hosts an annual ‘Webfest’. This is a hackathon-style event, bringing bright minds together for a weekend to work on creative projects using open web technologies. Participants work in small teams, often designing web and mobile applications that help people engage with CERN’s research, physics, or even science in general. CERN’s online Webfest isn’t just for those that can code: anyone with an idea, a challenge, or other skills is welcome to take part.
Tackling challenges in climate action at CERN’s global Webfest
Last month, the third online edition of the Webfest celebrated its 10th anniversary, bringing together students from around the world to tackle challenges relating to climate action.
Rather than taking place over a single weekend, this year’s Webfest ran online across July and August, providing participants with the opportunity to develop their projects and ideas over a longer period of time.
The CERN Webfest is an annual hackathon based on open web technologies. Held since 2012, the event brings together bright minds to work on creative projects using open web technologies. Participants work in small teams, often designing web and mobile applications that help people engage with CERN’s research, physics, or even science in general.
The third online global edition of the Webfest tackled challenges relating to the theme of climate action and sustainability, from calculating the carbon footprint of online and in person events, to crowdsourced data collection and next-generation data visualisation. Students worked together to pool their skills and knowledge to develop prototypes of apps, hardware and other tools focusing on finding solutions to the challenges.
Teams at this year’s Webfest created an application to demonstrate three-dimensional data visualisation, a platform for creating events and calculating the carbon emissions during the event. One team designed a waste disposal management app, allowing people to see how much waste their neighbours in their community generate. Prototypes were also created, demonstrating the visualisation of climate data, alongside many other innovative ideas. Information on all of the solutions created can be found here.
The Webfest ran across four online sessions during the two months, incorporating mentorship sessions and workshops relating to this year’s theme, ranging from design thinking to crowdsourced data and citizen science tools. RemotelyGreen, supporter of the Webfest, ran networking sessions, with participants also taking part in a virtual scavenger hunt in their teams and online exercises sessions run by the CERN Fitness Club.
Each year, one project is selected as the overall Webfest winner, with judges selecting the team working on the challenge of next-generation data visualisation. Their solution explored CERN’s data repository, Zenodo, using design thinking to formulate how data visualisation could be used to reduce the time required to start working with data, and how this could have an environmental benefit and result in energy reduction.
“During the Webfest I collaborated with bright-minded teammates on a creative project exploring open web technologies, online international collaborations, and cross-cultural user experiences. While our aim was to save energy and advance science towards climate action, with our next-generation data visualisation software prototype we also explored how the future of work - and our planet - will unfold!” explained CERN Webfest 2022 winner, Diogo Pereira Henriques.
The structure of this year’s event highlighted how climate action issues can be worked on over a longer period of time, encouraging students to think beyond the scope of just a weekend and consider long-term work in promoting climate action and sustainability.
The CERN Webfest was organised by members of CERN openlab, with additional support provided by EU project Crowd4SDG at Ideasquare and Remotely Green, a start-up company created by CERN users that specialises in virtual networking.
You can watch the public Webfest sessions, including the awards ceremony announcing the winners here.