Personal data in the spotlight at Ultrahack MyData hackathon

hackathon-ultrqahck

Two weeks ago in the basement of Helsinki’s historic Kulttuuritalo (designed by Alvar Aalto and opened in 1958) a packed crowd took part in the Ultrahack MyData Hackathon kickoff, marking the start of the 48 hour intensive effort.

Around eighty selected hackers from more than twenty teams gathered. A handful had traveled to Helsinki from Estonia, Norway, Netherlands, Austria, Germany and the UK. There was a diverse mix of contestants/students, corporate, start-ups, many different nationalities, ages and gender. Some teams came with MyData experience and solutions already in process, other teams started from scratch.

The audience were given an insight into MyData as a topic and the main challenge themes of Mobility, Public Services, Finances, Retail and Health were introduced. There was the customary ‘wildcard’ entry which allowed participants to focus on their own MyData related topic or try to make a solution spanning across more than one challenge.  The kickoff session concluded with individuals and teams given a moment to shout out offer their skills or asking for help. The teams then knuckled down and got hacking.

Make it Happen, make it right

Dawn broke on Wednesday, and in parallel to the Hackathon, the MyData Conference kicked-off in the main auditorium space of Kulttuuritalo with subsequent use of all the other rooms across the venue for multiple seminars, workshops and discussions. It was a truly international gathering with visitors from more than twenty countries, as far away as Japan, Australia and USA. The Hackathon provided the Conference with the ‘hands-on’ concrete progress pushing forward aspects of MyData, supporting the intent: ‘make it happen, make it right’ , which was the Conference tag-line. The Hackathon was making strides in proving that  MyData solutions can be made.

The halfway checkpoint at 24 hours gave teams an opportunity to tell others what they had been working on, and the organizers the challenge of keeping to the schedule! Twenty-five teams each pitched their ideas in the allotted three minutes. Sessions then followed-on with mentors, mainly from Partner organizations who guided the teams with the use of the data-sets and offering support and ideas. Even at this stage more than one team chose to pivot and start from scratch. Individuals who had arrived alone the day before, were now embedded with new teams and new friends.

The food, drink and working continued late into the night and several teams chose to sleep in the quiet spaces. Long days for all and short nights for many. A relaxed atmosphere in the cozy basement.

Mobility app takes top prize

The final pitching was held in upstairs in the large Conference room late Thursday afternoon and enabled Conference participants to hear the team results from the Hackathon. The judging panel, made up of representatives from Partner organizations listened intently to the 3 minute pitches. Once again with strict time management the pitching concluded on time. There was then the tough challenge for the judges to analyze the teams, using insight from the mentors who saw the development through the 48hrs and also on the potential for the solutions.

In effect, everyone took something away from the Hackathon, whether it was new skills, learnings or new friends. But, being a competition, there had to be winners!

The overall winner was the Mobility Profile team, comprised of young University students who further developed their mobility app. Making over seventy commits to github during the hackathon, their solution focused on next destination forecasting when travelling, taking into consideration privacy and smooth secure user experience.

The other top five team winners were:

  • Consent Gateway (building the interconnections to allow awesome consumer service journeys that start with consent),
  • Get Your Data (a new way to request your data from companies and government. Control how your personal data is handled!),
  • Sell your Soul Data – how to monetize your data
  • TIE (Transparent Interactive Evaluation) new way to evaluate students in the future. See the past, make the future better – edtech, team started from scratch.

Bonus prizes of Pebble TIME Smartwatches went to the Guardian team (pivoted: helps improving your health one item at a time! Do you really want the snacks?) and the CityBike Assistant team (Park near your work. Where to go and how to get there fast ! making use of user history and pushing it to your smartwatch).

Read more about the winners here.

The MyData theme will continue in the main Ultrahack competition on the 25-7th November along with Hack The Nation challenge focused on improving Public Services.

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