Last week saw National College of Ireland host an AI Hackathon for the common good, focusing on the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), sponsored by the British Council, co-organised by Dr Anu Sahni, Musfira Jilani and Michael Bradford, with the support of the Dean of the School of Computing, Dr Paul Stynes; Commercial Manager, Bertie Kelly and many faculty who came to offer guidance and support to the students.
On Tuesday afternoon, our student participants pitched their projects to a panel of external experts and had the opportunity to further reveal the research and innovation behind their proposals in a Q&A session.
In thanking the judges for giving their time, Professor Jimmy Hill, Vice President of Research and Academic Affairs, noted how complementary each distinct area of expertise was to the subject at hand, covering practical application of the SDGs, start-ups, business development, professional communication, and software engineering and architecture. In response to the student projects, he noted that each one had potential for real-world application, and he joined with Commercial Manager Bertie Kelly in encouraging the students to move to the next step of invention declaration.
Three teams chose to focus on air pollution as it is a topic that has some existing data sets to work with and it relates to three SDGs: Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-being), Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and Goal 13 (Climate Action). A fourth team proposed a Mammoscan app to assist with early diagnosis of breast cancer in places where it is more difficult to access medical check-ups, whether that is because of financial or logistical impediments, addressing Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-being) and Goal 10 (reduced inequalities).
The winning team also addressed Goals 3 and 10, with a project called Little Life that could be used, again, where it is more difficult to access medical care, but also link in with GPs and hospitals, described a system that would monitor key health indicators of a pregnancy (both maternal and foetal) and raise the alarm early if the overall 'score' was outside of healthy parameters, ensuring medical intervention would be sought in good time.
These data-driven projects each had a machine learning component, so that the systems would continue to learn and increase in accuracy as they gathered more real-time data.
Ciara Smullen, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Sightsavers Ireland (judge); Swapnil Parashar, Software Development Manager at AWS (judge); David Smith, Head of Ecosystems Development - Service Provider Operations Lab, Huawei (judge); Andrew Keogh, Executive Coach at Aristo (judge); Professor Jimmy Hill, Vice President NCI; Dr Anu Sahni, NCI's Knowledge Transfer Ambassador; Paddy O'Boyle, Director of Business Development (ICT) DCU (judge); Dr Kerry McCall Magan, British Council Ireland; Dr Paul Stynes, Dean of NCI's School of Computing, congratulating the Little Life team, all currently studying for their MSc in Data Analytics: Veera Avinash; Vinith Kumar; Sneha Muralidhar;
Amrit Iamxanasa Shidling; Pradeep Narayanswamy.
On behalf of National College of Ireland, the co-organisers of the two-day hackathon and all the students who participated, Bertie Kelly extended a warm thank you to Dr Kerry McCall Magan and the British Council of Ireland for sponsoring this event at the College.