Big data for (doing) good!
30 November 2017 - Geneva

Lately the Impact Hub Geneva has been hosting a lot of Hackathons! For example last week when gender equality issues were addressed in the Gender Hackathon. Or a couple of weeks earlier when participants came together to think about Food Waste during the Food Hack. On November the 10th the Impact Hub Geneva, together with the Port hosted another Hack. This time it was all about Big Data!

Crazy stories

Schermafbeelding 2017-11-28 om 15.51.53Big Data. These days you hear a lot of crazy stories about the topic. Varying from privacy to misuse by unjust discrimination. But here at the Hub we always want to approach things from a positive point of view! So why not use big data for doing good! And that’s exactly what happened during this weekend in November. Hundreds of un(der)used Big data sets of private organizations and Humanitarian and International Development Organizations (I.O.s) were consulted by forty experts and hackers in order to develop tools, discover trends and facts. All to leverage new business models which can have a positive effect on the lives of people. Thanks to the support of the IBM, participants had the possibility to access multiple tools, including access to IBM Watson’s “Open Bar.”


So what exactly where they searching for this weekend? All of the challenges varied, but were mainly focused on humanitarian, social and public interest topics.

Take for example the first challenge addressed by David Breed. Together with a team of ten experts, he analysed big data sources from Securaxis and Nethosphere in order to assess risk of political violence. By using IBM as a programming tool, his team started off with six hypotheses and programmed IBM to analyse news articles and papers and see if they could recognize patterns or trends for different political scenarios.

The second challenge was more focused on the use of Big Data in combination with social media. The main question in this challenge was how to drive collaboration on SDGs through social media intelligence. With a pre-selection of the most active 150 twitter users, the team was able to use this data to distract the biggest online influencers and concepts.

Schermafbeelding 2017-11-28 om 15.51.09The third one shed light on how much government pay for their vaccines per country. At the moment it is not clear how much money is spend per vaccine per country. Why examine this? By having an overview per country, it becomes easier to establish one big global price. The second last challenge was all about the open software system Atlas, created by Cern to analyse big data events with limited Internet access. The Big Data Hackathon proved to be a perfect opportunity for a team of hackers and non-hackers to work and experiment with Atlas and see what the software’s benefits are. The final challenge was all about food and how to improve food assistance for populations in need. This team worked really hard and by the end of the weekend they developed a website in which users could add different nutritional objectives in order to see what kind of seed can be planted in local area’s to meet the populations needs.

Program and participants

Schermafbeelding 2017-11-28 om 15.50.58With IBM representing the private sector, CrowdAI the technical, Global Humanitarian Lab the non-profit, TreeIntelligence the marketing and The Port the technical and educational sector, there was a good mix of expertise also found in the attending jury members. With so much enthusiasm, so many experts and collaborating partners and inspiring results, we can say that the Impact Hub is definitely up for more! And more is coming since one of the future aims of the Impact Hub is to support more of these technology driven initiatives.

If you want to have a general impression of the Big Data event you should check out their dedicated Facebook page. At this page you can find all the pictures taken during the weekend.

If you want to know more about the Impact Hub events, have a look at the event page!