Date
22 October 2018
Herbert Chia (center), a former Alibaba vice president, was one of the chief instructors and judges at a student hackathon held at the Hong Kong Science Park last weekend. Photo: HKEJ
Herbert Chia (center), a former Alibaba vice president, was one of the chief instructors and judges at a student hackathon held at the Hong Kong Science Park last weekend. Photo: HKEJ

Student hackathon with a Big Data guru

A hackathon, a design sprint-like event where programmers and related parties collaboratively intensively on software projects, was held last Saturday at the Hong Kong Science Park.

Headlined “Building a Dashboard for Hong Kong”, the codefest drew participation from teams of university students, who were asked to design a “data dashboard,” with digital solutions, to tackle daily life problems with big data analytical technology.

During the event, a team from The University of Hong Kong designed a digital map showing all recycling bins in Hong Kong. The digital map enables the public to know the location of recycling bins when needed, and allows the government to track and adjust the allocation in different areas based on the demand. This innovative solution received the “Best Story Telling Award.”

Another participating student team designed a data dashboard showing the queue situation for government services in all the districts, with the waiting time of each office listed. With the information, users can decide whether they still want to wait in the line, or whether they have other options.

Herbert Chia, a former Alibaba Group vice president who was one of the chief instructors and judges at the weekend event, said the most important element of a data dashboard is “showing information to the public and driving better decision making.”

Chia told the Hong Kong Economic Journal that as “data is often not available in Hong Kong,” developers may use proxy data instead to design a data dashboard. 

The Big Data guru stressed that students, when developing digital data solutions, should not stop just because they can’t get the data they need.

“Think about how to convince the people who own the data to share that with you,” he said. “The more complicated the problem you are tackling, the more people are willing to provide data for a solution.”

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 11

Translation by Ben Ng

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal

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