OTN Supported MedHack a Success

On 13-15 July 2016 OTN participated in MedHackathon event that was organised by the European Regional Framework for Co-operation and the Computer Engineering & Informatics Department (CEID) of the University of Patras. The Patras-based event comprised a conference and a hackathon and had as its main focus Open Data and its potential to facilitate the creation of new ideas, projects and services. 

Over the course of three days the seven-strong OTN team performed a number of different roles and tasks. Karel Charvat from HSRS took charge of moderating the event while Dmitri Kozuch (HSRS), Jan Jezek (University of West Bohemia), Pavel Hájek (University of West Bohemia), Richard Brown (ATC), Leonidas Kallipolitis (ATC) and Irene Matzakou (Intrasoft) offered mentoring support to developers on days two and three. On day one Irene also delivered a presentation about OTN during a thematic session focused on transport. The audience found OTN's crowdsourcing approach to addressing local transport problems particularly innovative, with many participants expressing interest in receiving project updates in the coming months as well as after the final review.

As a supporter of MedHackathon OTN brought to the event not only its human resources but also data and tools. Before the actual hack started developers had a chance to learn about the available datasets, different Hub components, WebGLayer visualisation library and, of course, the prizes on offer. The latter included a drone, a Raspberry Pi kit and an Arduino kit and were intended to incentivise developers and draw them closer to the project. Those who chose to work with OTN tools and/or data could come up with their own ideas or address one of the suggested challenges prepared by the OTN team: 

Figure 1. Irene Matzakou, Research & Innovation Manager at Intrasoft, explaining OTN to developers

In the end, prizes went to two teams that proposed unique solutions to problems in the areas of health and tourism. Arduino and Raspberry Pi kits were awarded to the team that came up with 'Donate and Save' (DAS) idea. In a nutshell, DAS aims to optimise the supply of and demand for blood or organs by connecting donors with places that need them most. According to the vision of DAS creators, if a need for donors occurred in a particular area, health practitioners would be able to use OTN platform to easily identify suitable individuals based on their proximity to a medical point. The proximity would in turn be determined by the donor's current location as identified by the GPS function of a DAS app.

Figure 2. Demonstration of DAS solution

The interaction between the app and the platform is central to DAS implementation as it helps to ensure that health practitioners always get the most up-to-date information regarding the whereabouts of each registered donor. It goes without saying that certain permissions and licenses would have to be obtained from all relevant parties before any data could be sent to/from the platform and the app. Discussions are currently being held between OTN partners and the creators of DAS to address these privacy issues, as well as to agree on the best possible strategy for implementing technical aspects of DAS, namely a mobile app and a special OTN account.

The last remaining prize - a camera drone - went to Raitis Bērziņš who, with the help of OTN mentor Dmitrii Kožuch, created Athens Museum Planner. The planner is essentially a web app that displays the sights dotted around the capital's metro lines in a way that is easy to understand for city residents and visitors alike. The app's geodata layers were published as WMS service on the Hub and can be viewed here.

Figure 3. Athens Museum Planner

Besides DAS and Athens Museum Planner there were other teams that used OTN tools to come up with innovative ideas, albeit not always linked to transport. One such idea is the visualisation of 2014/2015 examination results in Latvia using WebGLayer API. Another is the mobile (Android) version of OTN Map Composer which will appear in the app catalogue of OTN website as soon as Simon Leitgeb, the developer, finishes adding final touches to his work.

Figure 4. Visualisation of exam results using WebGLayer

"It's great to see OTN inspiring developers to create so many different solutions," said Irene at the end of MedHackathon. "We need more events like this one. They definitely help unleash the innovative potential of citizen-developers, promote the benefits of Open Data and address real-life problems in the most innovative ways. We also need them to improve our own [OTN] solution which has been designed by the people for the people." 

Figure 5. OTN Mentors (left to right):  Irene Matzakou, Dmitri Kozuch, Leonidas Kallipolitis

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, August 2, 2016