CMU Australia Students Excel at Top Global Hackathon

Posted 21st November 2019

A solution for Plastic Free-July participation secured the top accolade for CMU Australia (CMU-A) student team at the recent GovHack competition.

Billed as a ‘festival of ideas’, GovHack is one of the world’s largest open data competitions for participants of all ages and backgrounds who come together to solve agreed societal problems using open data over a 48-hour period.

Five CMU-A teams, believed to be the most representing a single University, participated in the 2019 competition with all being recognised at the Red-carpet Awards held in Canberra on 9th November 2019.

In the best GovHack results for CMU-A, one team took out top honours, two were runner-up in their category and two received honourable mentions from a field of over 250 entries from throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Cream of the crop. Carnegie Mellon students wearing their GovHack medals.

CMU Australia students have competed in GovHack since its inception nearly a decade ago.

“CMU-A students have been extraordinarily successful at GovHack and I’m delighted the 2019 teams have continued that tradition”, said Murlikrishna Viswanathan, Associate Teaching Professor of Information Technology at CMU Australia.

“Our students have really excelled this year and I’m very proud of their achievements as this has again demonstrated the strength of CMU in Australia as leader in Analytics education”, said Murli.

“I’m a great supporter of hack-a-thon competitions like GovHack as they help our students hone their business intelligence skills. Data can tell us a great deal, but the real key is the human interpretation and application.

GovHack is the perfect forum for CMU-A students to pit their skills against the best, build their personal networks and apply the comprehensive training they have in technology and management.

- Professor Murli Viswanathan

Professor Murli Viswanathan, Associate Teaching Professor of Information Technology at CMU Australia.

“Participating in GovHack was a great experience because I was able to utilize the tools and apply the knowledge I’m gaining at CMU-A to finding solutions to real problems affecting real people, said Simeone Freeman. Simeone is from Liberia and is at CMU Australia competing her Master of Science in Information Technology.

“GovHack was really exciting. I loved the challenge and the opportunity to work with class-mates and CMU-A alum on current real-world problems,” said Gao-Ming Tang who is studying the Global Master Information Systems Management.

“It was great to put into practice what we’d been taught at CMU Australia at GovHack. We especially utilized elements of what we learned in design thinking, data visualization and microeconomics classes in order to develop a viable solution to a major global problem like plastic waste,” explained Rama Yudo Wirawan, who recently graduated from the Master of Science in Public Policy and Management program.

The five successful teams were:

Team Hoscio Cat, Donna Safiera (MSIT 2019) and Rama Wirawan (MSPPM 2019) won the Environmental Challenge for their solution to solve the problem of low participation in the Australia-wide Plastic Free July program.

Donna and Rama developed a Mobile Application called Plistoplastic that provides alternative ways for people to participate in Plastic Free July, gives incentives for greater participation, shows ways to reduce plastic consumption and builds data for a world-wide Green Ecosystem.

The central point of their App is a ‘Green Point’ system whereby participants collect ‘green points’ during the month and compete against other participants. The App also shows participants where they can shop at retailers who support Plastic Free July.

Data collected from the App will help both public and private organisations to better understand and impact behaviours that promote an eco-friendly lifestyle. The end goal of the App is to create a global community of eco-friendly and zero-waste champions and advocates living the city and rural locations.

Rama Wirawan and his partner Donna Safiera of Team Hoscio Cat.

Team Aquavo, Wendy (Tzu-Shu) Shyu (MISM 2021), Wen-Hsin Chang (MISM 2021), Gao-Ming Tang (MISM 2021) and Aaron Osterby (MSIT 2009) were runner-up in the Environmental Challenge for their Water – from source to tap program.

The team proposed establishing a charitable organization which would be supported by crowdfunding to trade the water rights for the River Murray with a view to preserving and redistributing water for environmental purposes.

Their water rights trading model was based on an algorithm they trained to price the water based on the historical relationship between rainfall and water trading.

Using open data, they built a visualization model that showed how water was being used so that it could be responsibly traded and preserved for environmental use.

Based on this data, Aquavo, a crowd-funded charity, would purchase and/or reserve water specifically from the River Murray and use the algorithmic trading system to optimize the amount of water preserved and/or redistributed to environmental flow.

Team NetAid, (Nitish Bajaj (MSIT 2020), Rachel Bukowitz (MSPPM Global 2021), Simeone Freeman (MSIT 2020), Peter Francisco (MSIT 2021), Jared De La Cruz (MSIT), Himanshu Arora (MISM 2021) and Julien Veyrunes (non-CMUA) were runner-up in the Social-Impact Award.

Team NetAid participated in the Commonwealth Department of Social Services Challenge to ‘how to help social-impact start-ups identify a need in the community, grow and track their performance’.

The team created a dashboard that provides business-intelligence and analytics services, using government open data, that provides insights into various areas of the community where a future startup might find an opportunity to create a service or product to meet an identified social need.

The primary purpose of the platform is to connect the four key stakeholders being NGO’s, community members who might access the service, potential investors and volunteers.

Team Waterwise by Yuou Lei (MISM 2021), Jioming Mu (MISM 2021), Shanye Wan (MISM 2021),, Xinrui Zheng (MISM 2021), Wenbo Liu (MISM 2021), Zoe Kwan (MISM 2021), Lei Ding (MISM 2021), Hao Chen (MISM 2021), Wenye Li (MISM 2021) and Hanying Li (MISM 2021) received an Honourable Mention for their entry in the Optimising Energy and Water Challenge.

The team developed a system to encourage people to track their water consumption and to make water conservation part of their daily lives.

Using sensors attached to every house-hold water-using mechanism, users can keep track of the water they use and get a daily analysis report. Coupled with an analytics tool, the team devised a fun and interesting way for users to management water usage and receive rewards for every drop saved. They even developed a module to provide water saving and re-cycling tips.

Team Transport Hacks by Nitesh Singh (MSIT 2019), Abishek Jayachandran (MSIT 2019) Roopansh Gupta (MSIT), Aman Agarwal (MSIT), Kushagr Arora (MISM), Matt Martin (Intern host at Svelte Studio) received an Honourable Mention for their entry in the Reducing CBD Traffic Congestion Challenge.

The team developed a Mobile Application, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning solution incorporating Smart-Parking, live tracking of parking spaces and best parking spaces coupled with a Uber-style short-route bus service from outer CBD parking stations. The Mobile App would track the live location of the bus and the route. As well the AI/ML component would generate live statistics on traffic congestion providing parking recommendations to users.

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