The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) has opened registration for UAE Hackathon 2019: “Data for Happiness and Wellbeing” and invited the public to register, according to the emirate in which they reside or want to participate in, through the website https://hackathon.ae.
The hack fest in its second edition will be organized during the Innovation Month, February 2019, in all emirates. It will be organized in Abu Dhabi from 3 to 5 February, in Sharjah from 10 to 12 February, in Ajman from 11 to 13 February, in Umm Al Quwain from 12 to 14 February. The third week will witness the UAE Hackathon launch in Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah from 19 to 21 February. This, year the UAE Hackathon will be organized in Umm Al Quwain independently. Dubai will witness the UAE Hackathon organization from 24 to 26 February. The TRA announced that the closing ceremony will be on 3 March, which coincides with the International Open Data Day. Three winners from each emirate will be honoured.
H.E. Hamad Obaid Al Mabnsoori, TRA Director General, commented on the Hackathon preparations, saying: “The first edition of the UAE Hackathon in 2018 achieved impressive results, through which we have been able to apply the culture and practice of data analysis, with the participation of hundreds of competitors from students, employees, entrepreneurs and others. This effort is part of the UAE’s directions expressed by the wise leadership through launching the Artificial Intelligence Strategy, the Fourth Industrial Revolution Strategy, the Blockchain, and others. Through the Hackathon, we enable the participants to develop useful solutions and programs to address several challenges. This year, the same principle will be applied, but with different challenges inspired by the needs of the participating government entities. The Hackathon represents the partnership between the public sector, companies, universities and the customers.”
The TRA approved nine topics covering challenges to be addressed by the UAE Hackathon. Topics include trending technologies, environment, data for resources sustainability, safety, health, employment, education, social development and justice. In cooperation with other government entities, TRA set a number of challenges within the above topics to be addressed in the UAE Hackathon. Such challenges include using Blockchain to develop government services and handling personal data, developing tools to improve food security and resources sustainability. Challenges also include creating smart tools or applications to reduce accidents, using big data to predict future trends in medical treatment, improving the chances of job-seekers, and using gamification to improve education at a primary and middle school. TRA set some other challenges to create smart tools and applications to assist people of determination, and using gamification to enhance good behavior and fight bullying among children. Moreover, TRA, in cooperation with Ministry of Justice, presented a challenge to innovate solutions to help people settle their disputes fairly, amicably and finally, without the need to go to court.
H.E. Salem Al Housani, Acting Deputy Director General for Information and Smart Government Sector, says, “The UAE Hackathon 2019 is based on concepts that include enhancing strategic partnership between government and non-government entities to create solutions and adopt valuable ideas, connecting ideas and challenges with happiness and well-being, and focusing on the international impact of the UAE Hackathon by implementing and marketing ideas in other countries as a part of the UAE’s soft power system. The TRA is also working to engage Ministry of Economy to register and protect patents, ideas and solutions devised in the hackathon.”
He continues, “The UAE Hackathon 2019’s goals include achieving the objectives in the National Online Service Index (OSI), in which the UAE seeks to achieve the first position, which will contribute to realising the UAE National Agenda 2021. It aims also to enhance investment and spread awareness of open data, support the UAE strategies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Artificial Intelligence, which depend on open data. The Hackathon goals include applying the concepts of digital government, smart city and age of big data, in addition to spreading knowledge and innovation in data analysis to develop solutions and take decisions. The UAE Hackathon 2019 will support government entities to publish their data on the national data portal (bayanat.ae), and enhance teamwork among federal and local entities.
It is worth mentioning that the UAE Hackathon is an innovative event organized by TRA. Its first edition was launched in February 2018. The Hackathon aims to bring together all categories and segments of society such as university and high school students, employees, entrepreneurs, IT professionals and others to develop solutions and ideas, using available big data. Seven hackathons will take place across the UAE; each emirate will host a hackathon event. Three winning teams will be selected in each emirate and a closing ceremony will take place in March to honor the winners.
Last May, TRA organized an innovation lab to get ideas and explore ways of improving the next edition of the UAE Hackathon. The lab lasted for three hours, as scheduled, and was attended by representatives of TRA, Prime Minister’s Office and other key stakeholders. The lab was divided into three sessions; the last one focused on brainstorming ideas in five main themes. The themes included the logo and theme of the UAE Hackathon, the marketing plan, the promotion ideas and investment in media kits of the 2018 hackathon. The themes also involved discussion on the process of financing and funding of the Hackathon, scenarios to implement the ideas and solutions submitted in the Hackathon and how they can be financed and sponsored, training courses and certificates, trainers and training companies. The lab was concluded with recommendations to keep the current theme ‘Data for Happiness’, to approve private sector sponsorship and to employ experts in data, which supervised the UAE Hackathon 2018. It was further recommended to appoint an external company to organize the Hackathon event in coordination with TRA and to assign the prospective sponsors of the event to invest the distinguished ideas.
The UAE Hackathon achieved notable success in 2018. It gathered more than 781 participants, who participated in 176 teams. In addition, there were 213 volunteers, 58 mentors and 46 trainers. Participating teams produced more than 60 feasible creative ideas in different fields that aimed to improve the quality of life and bring happiness to people. As the UAE Hackathon achieved great success last year, TRA decided to organize the event annually during the UAE Innovation Month, which falls in February each year. It is further decided that the Hackathon goals will remain the same. These goals include shaping the future, handling big data and developing solutions to contribute to the society’s happiness.
Moreover, the National Program for Happiness and Well-being has been a key asset in supporting the UAE Hackathon. H. E. Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Well-being and Director General of Prime Minister’s Office, visited ‘UAE Hackathon – Data for Happiness’ in Sharjah Center for Astronomy & Space Sciences, the hosting entity of one of the UAE Hackathon stations in its third stage. H. E. also visited Zayed University, the hosting entity of the UAE Hackathon in Dubai, and checked the innovative ideas presented by the Hackathon participants. She concluded her visit by attending the closing ceremony held at Zayed University on 4 March 2018 where she honoured the winners and distributed prizes. The minister's presence had a significant impact on the Hackathon event. It reinforced the idea of the Hackathon ‘Data for Happiness’ and its goal which is the core mission of the National Program for Happiness and Well-being.