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Global big data 'hackathon' takes place tomorrow

Data scientists around the world will compete for 24 hours to find best predictive models for air pollution.

The world’s first global ‘hackathon’ takes place tomorrow, when data scientists across multiple continents will vie to come up with new and innovative predictive models for air pollution.

The event has been organised by data analysis community group Data Science London as part of their Big Data Week event with support from Kaggle – a US company which pitches competitions to a network of PhD level data science experts on behalf of public and private organisations.

The competition will see contestants work with air pollution data from Cook County, USA, with the aim of improving the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index.

Contestants will enter either at designated venues in London, New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Melbourne, Canberra, Berlin and Turku (Finland) or by accessing systems remotely, with Amazon Web Services donating the use of its cloud infrastructure free of charge for the competition. Numerous cash prizes of up to £3,000 each are up for grabs.

Jeremy Howard, president and chief scientist of Kaggle, said the landmark event will serve to promote big data science to a worldwide audience while also providing networking opportunities for the community.

“This is a great opportunity to bring together the best data science minds in the world and see what they can achieve in just 24 hours,” Howard said. “Also, it will be the first Kaggle competition to be held at venues so it should be quite a social event because for the first time participants will actually have a chance to meet each other.”

EMC Greenplum is a sponsor of the event. Chris Roche, regional director for Greenplum and a speaker at the 1st Big Data Insight Group Forum last week, said: “Healthcare provision, and specifically the treatment of chronic diseases, is one of the major concerns of governments worldwide. Serious respiratory disease affects over 700 million people globally and chronic disease accounts for over 80 per cent of all primary care consultations.

“If the hackathon can in some small way contribute to positive healthcare outcomes then the event will prove more than worthwhile,” said Roche. “What I like about the hackathon and the data science community is the accelerated innovation that they create. These open learning environments complement well Greenplum’s open source, agile and social approach to data science. Data science is, after all, a team sport.”

To find out more see Come back to on Monday for pictures and further coverage of the event.

With over 33,000 data scientists in its community, Kaggle has previously run competitions for the likes of Dunnhumby, Ford, Heritage Health, Microsoft, NASA, Stanford and Wikipedia.