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UAE Hackathon aims to tap data for happiness

Event aims to strengthen partnership between public and private sectors and use data to develop innovative solutions and ideas for the greater good

Gulf News

Dubai: The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) on Thursday announced the launch of the UAE Hackathon, the country’s biggest data analysis challenge, which will be held in all emirates next February in conjunction with the innovation month.

The Hackathon is to be held in four phases, including six in different emirates, with the allocation of the emirates’ activities for the innovation month being announced simultaneously. The total number of participants is expected to reach 1,200 from all over the UAE, with about 200 participants in each hackathon.

The event is the first and largest of its kind in the field of data analysis. It consists of six hackathons, each held in an emirate. It will start from Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi on February 4, 2018, and will last for three days.

The Hackathon concept is to establish small teams of 3 to 5 persons representing all categories and segments of society, such as employees, university students, high school students, entrepreneurs, IT professionals and others. These teams will then develop solutions and ideas in the identified areas of the Hackathon, using big data provided by many government entities in the country.

The UAE Hackathon will pose several challenges to participants, including transportation, traffic congestion, health, education, sustainable development, and gender balance, which are among the governmental work priorities in the UAE to achieve customer happiness.

“UAE Hackathon is part of the UAE Government strategy to keep pace with the changes and data produced by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, accompanied by the decision of the wise leadership to establish a Ministry of Artificial Intelligence, to become the first country in the region in this field,” said Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri, TRA Director General.

He pointed out that the Hackathon is also part of a series of initiatives launched by TRA aimed at enhancing the spirit of innovation among the various sectors of society, particularly the youth sector. It aims to develop their skills and competencies to be able to compete in the labour market, which is expected to undergo drastic changes with regards to the required standards in competencies and human resources, he added.

“We consider the Hackathon an opportunity to strengthen the partnership between the public and private sectors through engaging private companies in the country. Through this experience, we aim to use data to develop innovative solutions and ideas that help in achieving the community’s happiness, thus, the Hackathon slogan is ‘Data for Happiness’,” said Al Mansouri.

The initiative also aims to involve a large number of students with participants from different social groups to develop modern solutions based on the analysis of available data.

The second week of the event will take place in Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah from February 11 to 13 at Ajman University – Fujairah branch, and the American University of Ras Al Khaimah. The third week will be held from February 18 to 20 in Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain, and will be hosted by the American University of Sharjah and Ajman University – Ajman branch. Dubai will be the last station in the UAE Hackathon tour, where competitions will be held at Zayed University from February 25 to 27.

All UAE residents can participate in the Hackathon, and no particular specialisations or professions are required. The only requirement is to register online through the website. It is preferable to register as teams rather than individuals.

Following the online registration through TRA website, applicants will be contacted to coordinate with them regarding the Hackathon location, selection and distribution of the teams, and the date of participation. The decision process is conducted by a panel of experts in this field. The panel will evaluate and discuss the submitted ideas of the participating teams, make a final decision, and announce the results.

However, participants will be introduced to the required criteria a week before the start of the Hackathon. These criteria include data utilisation efficiency, product adoption and sponsorship probability, product marketing strategy, and sustainable marketing plan for the product or idea reached by the participating team.

All participants will receive one-day training course as well as a participation certificate from TRA. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on March 3 in Abu Dhabi. The winners — six teams — will be honoured in each emirate by publishing their winning solutions and applications on the UAE Government official portal, along with a video showing the winning works. The winners at the national level will receive valuable prizes.