Hackathon is a combination of “hack” and “marathon” . Among programmers, it’s quite common to get together for a few days or a week to tackle a particular theme.
The Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Facebook are known to hold these kind of in-house activities and as a result the “Like” button on Facebook was introduced.
Nowadays, not only are we creating new technologies, but new initiatives are being introduced to utilize programming technology to challenge social issues. Some hackathons even deal with themes like education, urban redevelopment, or racial issues.
Hackathon, aiming to solve social issues, is held not only in Japan but on the global level.
In March 2018, “Vhack” was held at the Vatican on the theme of Inclusion, Cross-religious dialogue, and to promote immigrant support. In this hackathon, 130 men and women from 30 countries spent 36 hours coding. As a result, it has created immigrants and refugees’ recognition system, and SNSs that engage in cross-religious dialogue, and many other initiatives aiming to solve social issues.
In August 2018, haji Hackathon, which aims to solve pilgrimage problems was held in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. This hackathons was recognized as a Guinness record in terms of the number of participants. A total of 2950 engineers from Arab countries, Japan, North America and India have participated in order to win investment of 30 million yen. The winner was a team of five women from Saudi Arabia, which translated the bulletin boards near the mosque into different languages and displayed it on a smartphone. It was remarkable that the women’s team won in a region known for male domination. As the investment is said to continue for commercialization, future development is expected.
Google has announced that it will carry out “Google AI Impact Challenge” (*1) which will provide 2.8 billion yen subsidies and support to engineers in order to solve social issues using AI. As an example of AI solution for social issues, it has introduced flood predication and wildfire preventions by AI analysis, animal protection by analyzing audio data of a whale, and health condition check from baby’s crying voices. The review will take place in 2019, we continue to pay attention for the trend of commercialization in the future.
Since 2017, NTT DATA has been holding an internal hackathon for 120,000 employees around the world in order to solve social issues and create new business opportunities. The German team, who won in 2017, developed an agricultural platform using IOT sensor in order to solve the food problem (*2). They conducted a demonstration experiment with a Dutch agricultural corporation and are now carrying out business development in Germany. The German team, again won in 2018, and have developed a system to support disaster relief using AI and are now looking for business development in Japan (*3). Our efforts to solve social problems using engineers across borders are likely to accelerate in the future.