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Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

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The Heat Squad crowned runners up at Tech 1000.AI Challenge

A Tetra Tech competition to find the best solutions to real-world problems sees, The Heat Squad, rise to the top of the ideas contest, with a pitch to solve the dangers of urban heat islands through AI-based solutions.

26 April 2024 | 3 min read

Scalable idea receives judges’ accolades

After competing in the Tech 1000.AI Challenge, Tetra Tech’s annual technology incubator, The Heat Squad, made up of 13 global Tetra Tech specialists including nine from RPS’ Asia Pacific business, were announced as the runners up, with the 8-week contest drawing to a close. 

The 2024 competition kicked-off in January and focused on delivering the best artificial intelligence (AI) enabled solutions and strategies for complex client challenges. More than 700 participants took part in the challenge, with teams consisting of two or more individuals. 

The final round took place in Washington DC in the United States between April 4-6, with four finalist teams presenting their ideas to a judging panel of experts. The judges included Tom Reilly, Leslie Shoemaker, Jeremy Travis, and Olivier Jeannot.  

The Heat Squad pitched an innovative and scalable solution to help evaluate and remediate the dangers of urban heat islands through AI based software. The proposed software solution would show the effects of urban heat maps in specific locations with the ability to rapidly model solutions and interventions. 

In a shark-tank style pitch, the team were given two-minutes to communicate how they would leverage artificial intelligence to solve the growing problem of urban heat islands around the world. 

Teams were also required to deliver a five-minute video, participate in a 35-minute question-and-answer session, and finish with a 10-minute closing statement, answering judges' queries the next day.  

RPS’ Strategy Lead – Geospatial Solutions, Jonathan Smith says, “the competition was a great opportunity to collaborate globally – with the best and brightest. We got to network between our Tetra Tech businesses around the world, come together with our peers, and launch a solution to a very important global problem.” 

“At one stage we were operating across seven time zones to collate information and pull people together. Those logistics were a challenge in themselves.” 

According to Jonathan, being named runners up was no mean feat either. 

“We were up against stiff competition with over 200 ideas being proposed along the way. Our fellow finalists presented compelling ideas for supporting aviation infrastructure, advancing the energy transition with AI-enabled greenhouse gas sequestration measurements, and improving wildlife conservation efforts. I’m very proud of our team effort, we were so close.”

“The judges and audience were really impressed by our submission and the solution we proposed. They immediately saw the value in this type of solution. In fact, Tetra Tech is already working on how they will take our idea to market – which is really exciting.”   

RPS’ Senior Principal Practice Leader – Mapping, Ivan Salhus says, “The software we pitched could be used worldwide and be at the forefront of science.”

“Our proposal combines the power of AI and Tetra Tech’s world leading capture and analysis expertise to help visualise, analyse, and mitigate the impact of heat island effects.”

“Over 1 billion people are impacted by heat related events annually, and heat stress leads to 5 million deaths every year. Amongst climate related disasters, heat related impacts are the leading cause of death.”

“Our solution offers savings in time, cost, and labour – which are all crucial elements when dealing with the destructive effects of urban heat islands,” he adds.  

The Heat Squad members who represented the team in Washington included Jonathan Smith, Greg Williams, Holly Miller, Neel Simpson, Jonathan Barnes, and Ivan Salhus. The other team members included Graham Elgie, Darwin Dyck, Andrew Campbell, Matt McCowan, Winnie Cheah, Eddie Feher, and Damian Ling.  

This is the third year running for the Tetra Tech competition, but the first to focus specially on the transformative solutions possible with AI that leverage Tetra Tech’s AI platforms and expertise
  
The winners of the 2024 Tech 1000.AI Challenge were Colin McGuire and Carmen Yu, who pitched AI-solutions for worldwide aviation challenges. 

The Heat Squad team sit and listen intently to pitches from other short-listed finalists at the AI.1000 Challenge.
Heat Squad members watch pitch from other finalists

About RPS

Founded in 1970, RPS, A Tetra Tech Company (RPS) is a leading global professional services firm of 5,000 consultants and service providers. Operating in 125 countries, working across six continents we define, design and manage projects that create shared value to a complex, urbanising and resource-scarce world.

RPS delivers a broad range of services in six sectors: property, energy, transport, water, defence and government services and resources. Services provided across RPS' six sectors cover twelve service clusters: project and program management, design and development, water services, environment, advisory and management consulting, exploration and development, planning and approvals, health, safety and risk, oceans and coastal, laboratories, training and communications, creative and digital services.

RPS stands out for its clients by using its deep expertise to solve problems that matter, making them easy to understand. Making complex easy.

For further information, please visit www.rpsgroup.com.