Creativity + curiosity + competition = amazing analytics

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By now it’s no secret that all kinds of organizations are using analytics to take on some of their biggest opportunities. But what about all the opportunities that have the potential to address important human issues that we have overlooked for one reason or another?

Those are exactly the types of issues that participants in the SAS Nordic Hackathon (sponsored by SAS and Intel) take on year after year. The competition calls for them to demonstrate the value of analysis using open data combined with SAS and open source capabilities. Our contribution? We give them the tools they need, providing each team with SAS Viya software in the Azure cloud – along with access to experts in the field. From there, it’s all about the creativity, skills and data that each team brings to the competition.

This year’s SAS Nordic Hackathon winners show what’s possible when creativity and curiosity are paired with the most powerful analytics technologies.

Which projects won – and how did they do it? Here’s a closer look.

Hidden Insights: Creativity + curiosity + competition = amazing analytics

Creativity + curiosity + competition = amazing analytics

Using data to reunite missing refugee children with their families

The Knowit team, one of two winning teams in the hackathon, combined machine learning, facial recognition capabilities and more advanced analytics capabilities to create a tool for locating missing children and connecting them with their families.

“We wanted to see if we could make a digital missing-people wall with SAS Viya,” explains Knowit’s Malin Svenningson. This approach would replace or augment more traditional tools for finding missing people – particularly those in refugee camps.

“Families may be forced to leave their homes in a time of chaos, and one of their children goes missing in the confusion,” says Svenningson. “When the family arrives at a refugee camp, they can hand in a photo of the missing child along with contact information about the parents, and we can use advanced analytics capabilities to locate and reconnect them.”

As part of its hackathon entry, the Knowit team created a simple mobile app for easy intake. “Humanitarian organizations can use this app if they see children without their parents,” says Knowit’s Lars Kvinge.

“You take a photo of the child, and it automatically uploads the GPS coordinates showing the location of the child," says Kvinge. "This data is then uploaded to the SAS server, where it’s sent through facial recognition algorithms.” From there, using advanced SAS Viya capabilities, children are matched with their parents through network analysis and displayed in a visual analytics interface.

The app’s facial recognition algorithms are run through Python. The data is enriched and analyzed in SAS Viya, and the visualizations come from SAS Visual Analytics. The result is an intuitive, powerful set of capabilities that uses data for good – to reunite missing children with their loved ones.

Finding the right neighbourhood in a new city

Finding the right neighbourhood when moving to a new city can be difficult. We have more data than ever to inform a big move, including fluctuations in housing prices, neighbourhood-level amenities, street-level views and school performance. But it’s still difficult to put all the pieces together to create an accurate, objective understanding of a neighbourhood.

In addition, different people value different things. A growing family moving to a new city is simply looking for a different experience than a retiree or a young, single professional. To make the problem even more interesting, people's needs change with time. What appears to be the perfect neighbourhood today may have far less appeal in five years or so, as circumstances change.

Team Evry developed a tool for its hackathon entry called “NeighbourhoodFit.” It pulls together a wide range of city-level data to construct a more accurate view of a city, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. The team used a host of publicly available data on a single Norwegian city, Stavanger.

Analysing GIS data with SAS®

“We drew from multiple sources, including Statistics Norway and open source data from the city of Stavanger,” Niklas Andersson explains. “Then we went straight to Esri, one of the largest providers of GIS data in the world – where we were able to collect even more data about individual neighbourhoods, which we layered as polygons over an interactive map of Stavanger. It helps that SAS has developed software specifically for this type of challenge – SAS Bridge for Esri.”

When the family arrives at a #refugee camp, they can hand in a photo of the missing #child, and we can use #SAS advanced #analytics capabilities to locate and reconnect them. Click To Tweet

From there, the team cleaned up and analyzed the data in SAS Viya across 20 key variables. “Additionally, we created forecasting models in the modelling studio,” says Nadia Chaudri. “This allows us to better envision what these neighbourhoods are going to be like in the future.”

Using SAS Visual Analytics, NeighbourhoodFit provides tools for intuitively exploring this data in depth, zooming in and out of neighbourhoods to examine and compare them.

Just as important, the team made it possible for users to input information about themselves. “That’s how we provide individual users with intelligent recommendations on areas of Stavanger that best match their lifestyle and needs,” says Niklas Andersson. “How do people spend their time and money in a specific neighbourhood – and how does that match up with their own routines and preferences?”

From there, the app can provide users with recommendations on neighbourhoods, including detailed information on demographics, spending patterns, schools and more. And it's all presented in an intuitive user interface. No more going to 10 different websites to cobble together information on 10 different aspects of a neighbourhood. Now it’s all available in one place.

See you next time!

Every year, the SAS Nordic Hackathon Challenge shows exciting – and sometimes unexpected – new possibilities for using data for good, and this most recent competition was no exception. SAS Nordic Forum presented and showcased his year’s winners. And they also received a trip for two to the largest analytics-focused event in the world, SAS Global Forum.

If you’re interested in competing in the next hackathon, know someone who should or just want to learn more, check out this webpage. You can get information on competing the next time out, or just take an even deeper dive into the winning entries, each of which includes a short explanatory video, as well as a brief write-up. Join us!

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About Author

Peter Lundqvist

My goal is to help companies improve their performance and become more effective by using analytics. Passionate about performance management & analytics. Over the years I have been involved in the whole value chain from idea, development, marketing & sales to business consulting.

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