Data-Driven Changemakers Datathon – looking back at the event

“Exciting, interesting, challenging….I’m in for the next event!”, said Louise Nebelsztein, Datathon participant, and thus summed up the feelings of the majority of  participants after the event. The weekend of 11-13 November was full of data analysis, hard work, late nights and interesting insights. 49 students decided to spend this weekend at CERGE-EI participating in our very first Data-Driven Changemakers Datathon. Accompanied by dedicated mentors and jury members, the students analyzed a vast amount of Prague city data, generously provided by the IPR (Institute for Prague Development and Planning), Czech Statistical Office and O2, to come up with solutions and answers for questions regarding Active Public Space within  sub categories relating to Urban Movements, Diverse City and Bottom-up Impact.

Check out photos from the event and watch the Friday presentations on SlidesLive!

Friday 11 November, 2016

To kick start the event on Friday afternoon and to get the Datathon participants into data mode, we had inspirational speeches by Dr. Gabriel Ahlfeldt (London School of Economics and Political Science), Mathilde Marengo (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia), Bernhard Sommer (University of Applied Arts in Vienna) and Lucie Stejskalová (Prague Institute of Planning and Development). After the speeches, our participants formed 11 teams according to their interests in the proposed topics. To conclude day 1 of the Datathon, guest speakers led workshops, to give participants the opportunity to ask questions and form ideas for their projects. Participants spent the evening bouncing ideas around  and crunching numbers to come up with a proposed draft solution to a question they had chosen to look at.  As they had to present these early on Saturday morning  it meant an intense evening for them.

Saturday 12 November, 2016

The teams presented their ideas to the jury members and mentors on Saturday morning, and received useful feedback from the experts. The participants, with the help of their mentors, used the advice to refine and develop their ideas on areas such as programming in R, urbanism, architecture, Excel, econometrics, idea creation, IBM Data Science Experience and more. They spent the whole day working on their projects and in the evening presented their progress to the jury members and mentors for further feedback and support, and to ensure that they were on the right tracks. To conclude the day and give all participants some time to relax and chill out, the CERGE-EI crew threw a party with pizza, beer and wine. However, with the deadline for presentations being noon on Sunday, the teams dedicated the rest of the night to hard work. Some of them got hardly any sleep and could be found at 4am still running data through R or visualizing their ideas on a white board. The dedication of the participants, mentors and jury members throughout the whole event was simply amazing.

Sunday 13 November, 2016

Sunday morning was filled with finalizing presentations, and after lunch the teams pitched their idea of a problem and a proposed solution for it to the jury. After careful consideration, the jury came back with the results:

Group 1 “Liveable Prague” – overall winner

Group 7 “The benefits of a new underground line for Prague” – the best technical solution

Group 6 “Kid-friendly public space – a prosperity approach” – the most original solution

Group 5 “Liveability index” – the most applied solution

The overall impression from the presentations was very strong and jury members were very impressed with the amount of work that the teams managed to do in such a short time span. The interdisciplinary approach, bringing together economists and architects, proved to be very valuable and we hope to have more such events in the future.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners – CCEA and ARCHIP for helping us to make this event so successful, to all our wonderful mentors and jury members for their dedication, and of course to all participants for their hard work and amazing perseverance with which they managed to achieve so much in such a short time.

A participant’s view

One of the Datathon participants, Masood Sadat, shared his view of the event with us:

“Datathon was an amazing experience. I teamed up with my friends to compete against some of the most aspiring economics and architecture students from the Czech Republic and beyond. It was no ordinary weekend. We had to stay sharp for the duration of the Datathon and were crunching numbers and brainstorming ideas tirelessly. The competition was extremely close and everyone went the extra mile. On the one hand, time was going too fast for developing our project, but on the other it feels like I spent ages under those beautiful ceilings of the Schebek Palace at CERGE-EI. While we spent the weekend working, eating, and sleeping indoors, outside it rained, snowed and got sunny again in Prague, almost without our noticing. At the end of this competition, it felt like everyone had won. I gained new skills, inspiration, and insight about myself. But perhaps my most important achievement was the friendships I built in those three days. Thanks CERGE-EI for the opportunity.”

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