Sunday, December 07, 2014

Smarter Egypt Hackathon, Nov 2014

Last weekend, IBM Egypt in cooperation with ITI  and other parties organized a 4 days hackathon in the theme of applying big data technologies to solve national problems in Egypt.


The organizing parties involved:

  • Information Technology Institute (ITI) that hosted the event and highly promoted it, in belief of the value of such activity towards the national development of the country, as well as allowing its students, among others, a chance to refine their skills, gain hands on experience on real world critical problems and a chance to make sounding success stories.
  • IBM, Beside the national target, IBM has ongoing cooperation with ITI. and the event was a good chance to promote IBM Technologies, specially in the national projects domain. possible success stories would have high ROI for IBM.
  • Government representatives from few domains that were target of the hackathon theme. The representatives brought sample amounts of data, and their domain experience about their fields. specifically:
    • Water
    • Agriculture
    • Health
I was a participant in the hackathon. along with the couple of professionals from alexandria, and 4 ITI students.   We called our team "waterfall" and worked on designing a product to make the operations of water network maintenance more efficient reducing the wasted time, effort and downtime. We were the 2nd place winners  AHL.



I would like to elaborate on some notes regarding the event:
  • Tremendous effort and results has been made to organize such event. i'm really thankful to all entities involved
  • While the government entities are usually closed minded when it comes to data. I am glad some were convinced to disclose some of their data. However,  declaring the event to carry "Big Data" theme, while the samples of the data doesn't include more than few thousands (one of the samples in a specific domain was less than 200 records) can be considered a joke.  I'd call it "data" hackathon, rather than "Big Data" one.
  • Although The hackathon was announced about and some resources were posted earlier, more benefit could have been made by replacing the technical sessions in the first day with actual workshops a week ahead or so. at least for students, who needed time to be able to use the technologies proposed.
  • The government can make use of similar activities on a large scale by inviting professional as Entities, as well as  individual. with larger time span in a similar kind of competition (not necessarily on site) and with potential actual projects afterwards.  Of course, companies can make this effort and try to proceed working on proposed solutions for the discussed problems. 

Overall, i'm highly satisfied and enthusiastic with the event. and looking forward for next steps from both the community and interested parties.