The winners of this year's CXA 2017 Hackathon.
By Ryan Huang
Imagine that it’s a typical weekend at the shopping mall, where there are a slew of activities, pop-up stalls and exhibitions. What’s the best way to find out whether visitors are satisfied and what they are most engaged in?
A group of students at the Code::XtremeApps:: (CXA) 2017 Hackathon appear to have a solution. They have developed an app that allows the monitoring of crowd management and the level of “buzz” in an area – by tapping a network of sound, light and motion sensors, as well as social media analytics.
“Through the various sources, we can find out the amount of traffic, the average dwell time, as well as visitor sentiment from feedback over social media,” explained Liu Chen-En, 18, one of the three students from Dunman High School who make up the Hacker Republic team which claimed the top award in the School Category.
Their idea was just one of many innovative solutions that emerged from the 11th edition of CXA – the longest running 24-hour hackathon. Organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the IT Standards Committee (ITSC), the event on 28 July was also supported by the Cyber Security Agency (CSA), Home-Fix D.I.Y, PSA Singapore and Suntec City.
Angeline Poh, Assistant Chief Executive (Industry Development), IMDA, said, “Computational thinking and coding are critical for problem solving. Coding will also be the foundation for other tech capabilities in future. We hope this competition helps to pique curiosity and inspire more people of all ages to be interested.”
The hackathon’s theme this year, “My Smart City: Connecting Our Senses”, focuses on the sharing of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and data, to promote a heightened level of awareness of the increasingly digital and connected world we live in. IoT refers to the connecting of devices over the internet, allowing them to “talk” to us and with one another.
This year, 118 teams took part, totalling over 340 participants – a mix of students, software engineers, business analysts, programmers, and more. Participants were split across three categories: Junior (up to Primary 6), School (secondary to pre-university) and Open (all ages including working professionals).
Innovative solutions for real-world problems
Participants were challenged to solve real problems from organisations across various sectors through IoT technology and standards.
“To help prepare the teams ahead of the hackathon, we also conducted workshops and site visits to give them the basics of not just IoT technologies but also standards, data analytics and even the Personal Data Protection Act,” said Chak Kong Soon, Deputy Chairman, ITSC.
For instance, one challenge posed to participants was to develop a way to better manage a fleet of company vehicles and drivers. The winning solution came from Team Neptune, a three-member group from PSA, which took the top prize of $9,000 in cash in the Open category.
“We made use of the vehicle’s on-board accelerometer, GPS and other sensor data. This is then analysed in real-time to provide feedback that reinforces good driving behaviour or identify any room for improvement,” said Wang Yaofeng, 31, team member of Neptune. “We find it rewarding to solve problems.”
In the Junior category, team Pro Hackers (right) won for its smart bus stop solution that uses sensors to detect weather conditions and alert commuters of approaching buses. In the School category, Hacker Republic (above) from Dunman High School took top spot for its crowd management solution. Both walked away with gadget prizes.
“This year's winning solutions showed a lot of potential, even those from the Junior category,” said Ms Poh, who added that many had the potential to be commercialised eventually.
For other finalists, taking part in the competition was already a rewarding experience.
“We took part because we love technology and creating new solutions to help people.” said Cedric Khua, one-third of team AppWizards from Hwa Chong Institution, Raffles Institution and Anglo-Chinese School (Independent). The 14-year-olds came up with an app for smart inventory and asset management. His team stood out as one of the few finalists with members from different schools – a result of knowing each other at their hobby coding classes. While they picked up only the third prize in the School Category, they are already looking forward to their next competition.