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MDSI students star at GovHack NSW 2017

In summary:

  • Students undertaking the UTS Master of Data Science and Innovation have taken home several prizes at 2017 GovHack NSW events (July 28 – 30)
  • GovHack NSW hosted open events in Sydney City, Parramatta and Broken Hill, inviting participants to apply their skills and creativity to unlock the potential of data.

Masters of Data Science and Innovation students have maintained their winning Hackathon form, claiming multiple awards in a jam-packed weekend of GovHack 2017 data challenges.

GovHack is Australia’s largest open government and open data hackathon, with events held in every state and territory. This year’s GovHack NSW featured events in Sydney City, Parramatta and Broken Hill (July 28 – 30).  Teams of competitors were given 46 hours to devise innovative solutions to social and economic challenges using open government data. Data was sourced from departments like NSW Health, Transport, Finance, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Bureau of Statistics.

Approximately 20 MDSI students took part in the GovHack NSW events in Sydney and Paramatta. At the Sydney event, MDSI team “Data Tuba” developed an app called “scenit”, designed to reduce traffic congestion and help users discover places of interest in Sydney.

“The idea behind scenit came from our interest in exploring new places,” explained Data Tuba team member Catherine Cheung.

“The app was designed to encourage people to get on to footpaths and cycle paths, meaning less road congestion and better health outcomes.  We could then use the crowdsourced data from the app to build a stronger sense of community.”

Data Tuba’s scenit project was named both runner-up in the Open Data and Congestion Insights challenge (sponsored by Transport for NSW) and winner of the Australian Health Consumers Challenge (sponsored by Health Direct Australia).

“The whole weekend was a great experience. We got the chance to apply the skills we’ve learnt in the MDSI to come up with data solutions.  We met some awesome people with diverse data science expertise, developed teamwork skills and got the chance to network with industry and government representatives,” said Catherine.

In Paramatta, fellow MDSI team “Air Busters” claimed second prize in the “NSW Smart Recreation Planning Competition” developing an air quality monitoring tool for Australians who suffer from asthma.

“With this tool, people with asthma will be notified of dangerous air conditions, reducing their risk of exposure and hopefully reducing the incidence of catastrophic asthma attacks,” explained MDSI student Shusmita Islam Smrity.

Serial hackathon winners Team DataCake (also from the MDSI) added to the trophy cabinet, claiming second prize in the Australia Health Consumers Challenge and first prize in the Innovation using NSW data competition.  By the end of GovHack NSW 2017, the MDSI cohort had claimed two first prizes and three second prizes across the eight event categories.

The cohort’s ongoing hackathon success is a testament to the MDSI program’s focus on creativity, innovation and real-world data science practice.

“In MDSI we are always looking for ways to ‘squeeze the learning’ out of events like GovHack,” said MDSI Course Director Associate Professor Theresa Anderson.

“We encourage our students to embrace data challenges like this as opportunities to test their evolving data science skills and to experiment with ideas, data, and new ways of working. Afterwards we work with them to embed new insights, learning and interests into the study program. I think it makes our students fearless in these circumstances, because win or lose they will gain a lot from the experience of taking part.”

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