Over 2,400 competitors from around the world entered what’s been described as ‘the biggest hackathon in the Asia-Pacific’ last weekend.
The ACS Flatten The Curve hackathon saw more than 200 teams compete for $50,000 in prize money with 43 shortlisted across five categories: Education, Assisting Health Care, Protecting the Vulnerable, the Future of Work, and Wellness and Mental Health.
“The scale was larger than any held in APAC before, with so many competitors, mentors and partners from so many backgrounds and time zones,” said Steve Nouri, hackathon organiser and ACS Head of Data Science.
“With the hackathon totally online, we anticipated challenges in forging trust between teams, communications, accountability and team creation, but the mentors and teams rose to the occasion and delivered a great result.”
Each category saw the winning team collect $5,000, second place pick up $3,000 and the third-placed group awarded $2,000.
Winners included VIP Party, an app to overcome stay-at-home loneliness; Team U Space, a tool to maintain proper social distancing at co-working spaces; and the University of Canberra Engineering Society’s 3D-printed adjustable face shields.
The 3D-printed face shields.
“The energy and creativity from the teams and mentors seemed endless," said Ellen Cresswell, the hackathon’s lead mentor.
"Many people worked incredibly long hours to complete their submissions.
“For me, it was really rewarding to see diverse teams tackle solutions for the social challenges that we now face as a result of COVID-19.
"This event wasn’t tech for the sake of tech; it was about finding innovative approaches that could be enabled with creative use of technology, and that’s inspiring.”
Participant Dipam Patel of Learn Anytime, a service that sorts curriculum-specific YouTube videos for educators, said he found the event’s positivity inspiring.
“Thanks so much for the consistent support and words of motivation,” he said.
“We were about to give up but then read a lot of people's positive comments and suggestions and we decided, even if we lose this battle, we’ll at least fight for it.”
ACS Chief Executive Officer Andrew Johnson said, “We recognised that Easter was shaping as a pivotal moment in combating COVID-19. Many workers and students had been displaced, compounded by employees being encouraged to work from home wherever possible.
“After working from home for a month, we were heading into a four-day Easter Holiday where it was critical to spend the next four days at home.
"This hackathon had a 9-day preparation window and provided an opportunity to put great minds to constructive use over the holiday period. A big thanks to our 40 corporate partners for their support.”
“We had 15 winners across the categories, but there were many other great ideas. I’m looking forward to seeing which ones come to fruition in the coming months as we get the spread of COVID-19 under control.”
The full list of finalists is at the ACS Hackathon YouTube channel and the full list of winners is below. Click on the team name to watch their submission video:
Helping Health Systems Challenge
Protecting Vulnerable Populations Challenge
Future of Work Challenge
Mental Health & Wellbeing Challenge