Awards presented to winners of Axiata Smart City Datathon


AFTER 24 hours of no sleep working on building data-driven business solutions incorporating data science and machine learning that stretched the limits of the participants, Team RotiBoost emerged champion in the second installation of a data-focused hackathon organised by Axiata Group Bhd in collaboration with Cities 4.0 and Asia School of Business.

Team RotiBoost beat 30 other teams to take home the bragging rights of Urbanlytics 2019 Champion and RM15,000. They received their Grand Prize from Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin at the Cities 4.0 conference, which was held a day after Urbanlytics 2019.

Speaking on their win, the seven-member Team RotiBoost, said: “The competition provided a valuable networking platform for both analytics professionals and data enthusiasts to gather and solve real-world problems.

“It was a great experience competing in the Axiata’s Urbanlytics 2019. We enjoyed the adrenaline and thrill of the real-time leader board that allowed teams to compete on technical skills. We look forward to participating again and urge anyone with general interest in data to participate to gain invaluable experience, while having fun in the process.

“We hope the ideas provided by all 31 teams during the event can be used as stepping stones to accomplish Smart City 4.0 in Malaysia.”

Team Urban Legends and Team UniJagung took second and third spot and prizes amounting to RM8,500 and RM6,000 respectively.

In addition to team wins, there were also three individual titles with outstanding performance among the data lovers.

They each took home RM3,500 for being named Best Data Scientist, Best Data Engineer and Best Data Consultant.

Returning for its second installation in Malaysia, the hackathon for data challenged teams to come up with solutions to real business challenges in 24 hours.

A completely anonymised dataset was provided at the start of the two-day event on Sept 21 and 22, 2019.

Teams came out with visualisations, insights into specific variables and predictions or analyses involving the complex, external datasets.

The judges looked for models and insights that lead to practical solutions which can impact real-life business.

With the challenge entirely focused on the open source culture of creating code and algorithms, Urbanlytics 2019 was the perfect platform for individuals from various backgrounds to cut their teeth in problem-solving for cities, befitting this year’s “Smart Cities” theme.

The participants came from diverse backgrounds, ranging from data scientists, data engineers, programmers, graphic and interface designers, data journalists, data community activists, computer engineers, IT professionals to business consultants.

The number of participants this year is double that of the inaugural event in Malaysia, named Data Unchained, held last November.

Interestingly, Urbanlytics 2019 had also attracted close to 60 female participants, and participants from countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal and Sri Lanka, in addition to Malaysia.

This datathon aimed to help inspire, engaged and innovative thinking, as well as build up capacity and talent among Malaysian data science communities.

The judging panel of Urbanlytics 2019 included head of Axiata Analytics Centre Pedro Uria-Recio, Celcom CIO Alexandros Paterakis, TM Forum and Technology Entrepreneur ambassador for big data analytics and customer experience Paul Morrissey and iflix global director of data analytics Bruno Gagliardo.

The concepts of big data and data analytics are becoming integral as a tool to better understand customer needs and assist in business decision making.

Axiata, Asia School of Business and Cities 4.0 looked to expose, nurture and develop a greater pool of specialists in this fast-emerging area of expertise. To enhance the learning experience and challenge of Urbanlytics 2019, leading industry professionals in analytics were at hand to mentor and guide the participants.

Among them were experts from leading industry association TM Forum and Axiata’s very own Analytical Centre.

Following the successful debut of the datathon event in Malaysia last year, similar hackathon for data competitions have been held in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. There are plans to bring this datathon to Cambodia as well in the future.

Uria-Recio said: “The successes of previous datathons have unearthed talented individuals, whom we are mentoring and nurturing even after the competitions. Our goal is to develop a pool of world-class data lovers who can hack it out in the real world, providing better solutions.

“In our increasingly connected environment, making sense of data is a success differentiator in serving customers better. Axiata places emphasis on this aspect more so with our footprint of 350 million subscribers in 11 countries.”

Asia School of Business professor of marketing and International Faculty Fellow at MIT Sloan Willem Smit said: “As population and cities grow, infrastructure and policies have to be efficient in meeting public demand. Data interpretation and analyses hold the key to unlocking the true potential of a city.

“Urbanlytics 2019 resonates deeply with the Asia School of Business’ aim of creating champions who challenge conventional thinking to affect change. We are excited to continue our partnership with Axiata in developing talents for tomorrow.”