Move over Dunkin, Hackathons run on Wi-Fi

Free coffee, pizza and a lots of swag might be some of the attraction, but great Wi-Fi is the backbone of a Hackathon. With no Wi-Fi there is no Hackathon. This article will dive into the importance of Wi-Fi at a hackathon, and outline in four parts the usefulness of specialized engineering and wireless services.

There is often a reliance on using the existing venue or school networks which results in Wi-Fi  congestion and slowdowns, sometimes locking some competitors out of the network entirely. Often the existing Wi-Fi simply cannot support the number of people and increased bandwidth demand at such an event.  

Wi-Fi bandwidth management is often a subject that is overlooked by Hackathon event planners. What seems to be a consistent pattern is a technician visits a site and the Wi-Fi works fine. However, when the event is in full swing and 300 people, with two or more devices each log-on the network, problems arise. This can cause a Wi-Fi brown out slowing down the network so projects are limping along.  The solution is to optimize the Wi-Fi by managing the bandwidth using a Slice Gateway Controller.

There are many opportunities to use Wi-Fi to add value to your event. To do so, requires some advance planning to determine goals, objectives, and specifications.

Portal – The portal allows you to limit the access, collect data, and create revenue opportunities through sponsorship. Features such as a login portal are great for advertisers, but when it comes to a Hackathon, it is the technical features and benefits that sweeten the pot and allow for a reliable network connection throughout this intensive technical event. Slice can help you strike the right balance.

Wi-Fi Network- Most Hackathons have one open network with everyone using the same bandwidth pool. The first on wins, leaving the rest of the hackers to struggle with slower connections. To eliminate this unfair advantage Slice does what we do best, we slice up the network to create private Virtual Local Area Networks or VLANs using the same bandwidth. We recommend about 5Mbps bandwidth per person. VLAN’s are individual, secure, private networks so each user has its own network with literally no interference by another Hacker’s bandwidth usage. This is done by actively managing the bandwidth, preventing a handful of users from hogging it. Slice can also limit the bandwidth per device to prevent temporary outages. It is worth noting that if you want a specific part of the event to have additional bandwidth, such as AI development or your vendors, this can also be done by putting them each on their own separate Wi-Fi network.

Engineering- The network design and engineering can get complicated, but those complication are for us to figure out. First a technician needs to complete a site survey. This survey includes area of coverage, bandwidth capability, number of users and devices, use of bandwidth, Wi-Fi AP’s, number of subnet user groups, interference types (thick walls, large equipment, etc.), electricity hardline requirements, and applications such as downloading apps or streaming requirements. This determines how to generate the best overall coverage. This process tends to be unique at each Hackathon event as additional tools like a spectrum analyzer maybe needed to determine the best high-density usage configuration. What is important to recognize is that just because your event went well last year, that doesn’t mean it will go as smoothly this year. Especially if your event is growing in attendees and sponsors, Slice is here to help.

Support- What is imperative to recognize is that user demand for Wi-Fi is dramatically increasing, as a Hackathon organizer you should have the resources and help to address this. To manage some of the problems, it is important to have a help desk with Wi-Fi adaptors to help older equipment work, set up a backup Wi-Fi network and APs incase you need to light up or add juice to an area. One of the major benefits of working with us is that Slice offers on-site support. This is not just a basic technician, we bring backup kit which includes Wi-Fi hotspots, cable and AP’s and desktop support. Another major advantage of using Slice’s equipment is the security we offer, some hackers may try to disadvantage others network access either for fun or to gain a competitive advantage. The Slice Box and our technicians offer these superlative security services.  

Coffee, pizza, and more than a few energy drinks may top your list, but good, high-quality Wi-Fi is a must or your Hackathon is at risk. There are countless examples of average or poor Wi-Fi causing many hackers to simply leave an event. Don’t let this happen to you.

Slice has provided its services to many Hackathons over the past couple of years for some of the largest events including the NBA, LA-Hacks, and Bitcamp. It is certainly worth considering what increased Wi-Fi capabilities and network reliability can do for your next Hackathon. For additional information please contact Slice HERE.

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