On Thursday 30th July 2015, Makerere University School of Public Health – ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) in collaboration with AidData Center for Development Policy (AidData – USA); Partner Development Lab under the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) hosted the Second Annual Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Hackathon at the Makerere University Innovation Lab. The hackers were engaged from 7:30 am to 6:30 pm EAT.
The Hackathon which attracted 42 participants was guided by the theme “Building Community Resilience towards Climate Change Effects to foster Development”. Interesting to note was the continuous in-flow of more and more participants even when the Hackathon organizers had closed off further entry to the ten teams earlier created. “GIS is steadily gaining popularity in Africa and even the world at large. GIS helps us to further interpret this data that we are working with” noted Brian Gitta, Matibabu non-invasive malaria diagnosis application team member.
The RAN Team was excited to host AidData Summer Fellows who had been working in Uganda for the last 8 weeks. They served as Mentors of the day, to help hackers refine their ideas, interact and manipulate the provided data sets. Participants shaped out files and used the AidData Geo coding methodologies to build interactive Maps. They formed up to 10 teams of 4 individuals each and were working to create a web application, web map, GIS app, Mobile App or Static map to address a specific challenge with a concentration on the use of spatial visualization and analysis. The teams worked on brilliant, informative and innovative ideas.
The Problem: Climate Change is expected to have a significant effect on the livelihood of people living in poor communities within Uganda. Significant investments of development aid and government revenues will be necessary to reduce these negative effects and provide effective options to strengthen resilience.The objective of the Aid-Data – RAN hackathon was to use geocoded data on aid investments and other open geospatial data sources to explore climate change vulnerability and responses to strengthen resilience. This hackathon focused on the impact of climate change on Agriculture, Infrastructure, and Poverty, using geospatial data participants explored Climate Change and its effects on Agriculture, Infrastructure, and Poverty in Uganda. They were challenged to use geospatial data to develop a map, application, or visual aid that can be used to help the policy-makers design policies and make effective investments to reduce the negative impacts of climate change.
A panel of judges, Academia and Development Partner organizations that have been involved in GIS Data Analysis and Big Data mining participated in the vetting process. They included; Dr. Moses Musinguzi from Makerere University with a wealth of experience in Spatial Data, GIS and Geoinformatics, Mr. Chris Lukolyo from UN -Global Pulse Lab working on GIS projects and Mr. Arthur Muteesasira from UNICEF who is supporting the Data and GIS work at UNICEF. They scored the projects based on the Innovativeness and Creative use of the technology chosen, Interactivity and clarity of the map or deliverable, Applicability and potential of the map or deliverable to solve a real-world problem. The value add a particular project comes in with could not go without consideration and mention.
1st Place: Team 8: EpiD Mapper. Details shared here
2nd Place: Team 4: Landslide Susceptibility – The Team developed a landslide susceptibility map. They indicated areas in Uganda that are more susceptible to landslides and were able to display the accessibility to these susceptible areas
3rd Place: Team 9: Kuuma – A mobile application that reports Deforestation Incidents by scanning images
The first team won $250 and a Smart Phone for each of the 5 Team Members sponsored by AFRICELL (Telecom Company in Uganda), the second team will receive $150 and the third team will receive $100. Thank you AidData Center for Development Policy for all the support and funds directed towards this cause. Other prizes went to the best participant on Social Media, one Paxcard David a student from Makerere University, Kampala Uganda who had the greatest number of Tweets and the Early Bird for the Hackathon, RAN Student Intern Enid Bakashaba from Makerere University.
15 students of the RAN 30 2015 RAN interns participated in the Hackathon following a Basic GIS half day Training by the AidData Summer Fellows in their first weeks of the Internship program. It was good progress witnessing the interns put into practice the learnt skills in a competition where they built real projects that address community challenges. It was an exciting coding session for all GIS enthusiasts, Developers, Analysts and Designers and an excellent opportunity for individuals to hone their skills in innovative problem solving, geospatial research, and program/policy design.
It was very thrilling to see young people critically think, crack their heads, lap tops and desk tops to geo-code the data, innovate and design solutions which are not only beneficial to Uganda but the entire world. It was also a great opportunity for the participants to build their GIS skill competencies in preparation for future academic and business tasks.
This event was made possible with the support of the United States Agency forInternational Development (USAID) Global Development Lab. It was also a true delight of HESN Inter University collaboration between Makerere University School of Public Health – RAN and AidData with summer fellows coming from different Universities in the USA (University of Texas Austin, Brigham Young University, UC Berkley, University of Colorado Denver, and College of William & Marry). “This GIS Hackathon was great learning, networking and engagement. I wish we had spent all the time allotted to the Summer Fellowship here at RAN” noted one of the Aid Data Summer Fellows.
Additionally, the event was co-sponsored by AFRICELL – Uganda; who offered Smartphones for the Winners, Reliable Internet Access point for connectivity, T-shirts and VIP Preloaded Sim cards of 500MB for all the 42 Hackers. AidData sponsored the prizes to the Winners amounting to $500 and the AidData Summer Fellows participated as Mentors during this event including active participation in the planning meetings prior to the event.
RAN took care of the meals, provided the venue and all logistics necessary for the success of this event. Urban Television, Uganda covered the event and will air the same during one of their Innovate Programs. “Partnership is the way to achieve, thank all partners for the support. Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) is committed to leaving no stone unturned as we work towards strengthening resilience in African target communities by developing solutions through innovation”, added Prof. William Bazeyo, Dean Makerere University School of Public Health and RAN Chief of Party/ Lab Director.