Solve for Alberta, Solve for the World - behind the scenes at ATB’s datathon.

This past weekend was an exciting one for ATB Transformation - as we  brought together some of Alberta’s leading minds in data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other disciplines to solve some of the most significant challenges facing Alberta today—uncovering solutions with potential for global impact. And wow, what a weekend! From an awesome kick-off event at Central Social in downtown Edmonton on Friday, to a jam-packed venue at The Heart in Robbins Health Learning Centre at MacEwan University—Alberta’s largest Datathon in history was a resounding success!

Just picture it—250 data scientist and data enthusiasts split into 45 teams in a beautiful, window-filled venue filled with laptops, food and refreshments, and of course, lots of coffee, tea and energy drinks. Each team chose one of three challenges and received associated datasets from a variety of sources to inform their potential solutions. The teams chose from three themes:

  1. Mental Wellness: Our mental health plays a significant role in our ability to enjoy a happy and productive life. Utilizing public demographic data, interactions with digital devices and social media, for example -  what insights can be discovered to reinvent how support for mental wellbeing or stress-related issues are addressed?
  2. Precision Agriculture: For Canadian farmers, even the slightest of business decisions can play a profound role in crop yield, quality to market, and overall profitability of the farms themselves. How can we use machine learning, satellite imagery, weather data and historical reports to create end-to-end intelligence that could have a substantial impact on our farmers, today?
  3. Customer of "One": Meeting customer demands for services and experiences (over products) is creating a new mix of consumer behaviours. Using public data and synthesized datasets, create a model that allows banks to deliver more innovative, tailored experiences that can better meet their needs; today, and in the future.

After a day and a half of brainstorming, planning, data modeling (and remodeling), presentation design and limited sleep, it was time for our esteemed judges to hear all the pitches. After 45 eight-minute pitches, the judges had chosen the top six teams. The top teams then presented their solutions in front of all the participants and the judges, then determined winners based on categories like relevance, originality, accuracy, structure and presentation. It was a tough decision with so many amazing ideas, but we’re excited to share that the 2019 ATB Datathon winners are:

$10,000 Grand Prize winners:

Party Parrots—A team from AltaML including data scientists, product owners and software engineers, who used a variety of data sets to develop an agriculture program to help people understand Alberta agriculture laws and predict land valuation and forest fire risk. The program included a natural language processing capability specifically designed to help both new and generational Canadians navigate complicated agriculture laws. Judges were wowed by the sheer variety of features the team managed to create with limited time and data. 

$5,000 Second Place winners:

The Infusers—Two students and a recent graduate from the University of Calgary designed a mental health program to combat the issue of physician burnout and to reduce the rates of depression and suicide among medical professionals. In their discovery phase, the team learned physician burnout is not only common, but can have a multi-million-dollar impact on an economy due to low quality of care or preventable mistakes. Their mission:  to transform the health industry by ensuring those who take care of us can first take care of themselves.

$3,000 Best Student Team prize:

Starbros—Students from the University of Alberta for their program using historical data to better predict annual yield to help Alberta farmers and insurance providers. Their team, made up of a variety of roles from various education backgrounds, said they couldn’t have succeeded without all hands on deck this weekend. 

Google Home People’s Choice Award Winners (voted on by Datathon participants):

The Data Junkies—A team of students from the University of Calgary who built a working iOS app to help Albertans with a variety of mental wellness challenges understand how many other people in Alberta share the same types of challenges. The Data Junkies were one of four student teams we were able to send to Edmonton to compete for free, thanks to the help of our generous sponsors.

Congratulations to the winners and a special thanks to all the participants, MacEwan University and our partner sponsors; IBM, SAS, OilersNation/The Nation Network and Axxiome; as well as our community sponsors, AMII and GDG Cloud Calgary. 

We hope this event is the beginning of something special. Alberta is perfectly positioned to solve some of the world’s most significant challenges with the help of the smartest minds and today’s most disruptive technologies. It’s home to world-renowned universities, research and application of artificial intelligence and machine learning. At ATB, we see a number of opportunities to expand our expertise to match and support growing challenges facing Alberta’s economy. We look forward to doing this again soon!

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