On November 24-27, 2016, MIT.UZ Open Data Challenge 2016, an annual contest for developing applications, services, and visualization solutions based on open data was held in Tashkent. It brought together more than 130 participants and was hosted by Inha University. The event was organized by the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan, UNDP Uzbekistan, E-Government Development Center, UZINFOCOM Center, “Kamolot” Public Youth Movement, and Inha University in Tashkent. BePro Center of Programmers and Nestle Uzbekistan were partners.

The main objective of MIT.UZ Open Data Challenge is to popularize the concept of open data in Uzbekistan and draw the attention of developers and wider public to this relatively new area of knowledge for the country. The participants were given the task to create socially important and innovative applications, messenger bots and infographics based on data available on the open data portal and official websites of government agencies of Uzbekistan.

The hackathon featured both training and competition parts. During the first two days (November 24-25), the participants attended trainings, workshops and presentations on topics including data journalism and visualization, data processing, lean startups methodology, design-thinking, secrets of winning hackathons.

  • Irina Radchenko, associate professor of St. Petersburg’s ITMO University, conducted training sessions on open data and data processing, briefed the participants on data formats, held a workshop on searching necessary data and visualizing it in the form of articles, infographics and long-reads.
  • Sarvar Abdullaev, professor of Inha University in Tashkent, facilitated an interesting workshop on data analysis in Python programming language. He also shared with the participants his personal story of competing and winning at an international hackathon.
  • ADB Project Coordinator Bokhodir Ayupov in his presentation on “Design Thinking” explained an interesting approach to solve problems using interdisciplinary and creative tools.
  • Lamuz.uz project founder, Bakhtiyor Khasanov, presented the lean startup methodology, explained how to create a portrait of an ideal client, as well as the concept of lean production. This technique helps to use a scientific approach to build a growing business and avoid unnecessary costs.

The competitive part of the challenge took place on November 26-27. In 1.5 days the participants had to present initial version of their projects. Participants plunged into an atmosphere of teamwork, competition and development. The teams were couched by trainers and specially invited professional developers. This year, the open data hackathon featured 31 teams that with the help of mentors worked on prototype of social and business applications, Telegram-bots, infographics and articles based on data analysis.

The main requirement of the competition was to create a prototype of the product (application, service, infographics or article), which must be developed during MIT.UZ Open Data Challenge 2016, not before the competition. At the same time, it was allowed to use third-party libraries or modules provided that it adds value to the new solution.

On November 27 at 17:00 all hackathon projects were presented to the jury and winners were identified in following nominations.

Team nominations:

  • AlphaZet team won in the 1st nomination, “Best social project based on open data (mobile or web app)”, with the project “MyWay – application for car owners to check the availability of gasoline at gas stations, to check car insurance, etc.”.
  • The winner in the 2nd nomination, “Best business project based on open data (mobile or web app)”, is DigAge team that created License Analytics project, a tool to analyze and visualize open data.
  • The 3rd nomination, “The best visualization on the basis of open data (article and infographics)”, went to team Valkirii for their long-read on “Global Warming: the Case of Uzbekistan”.

Individual nominations:

  • “Best social project based on open data (Telegram-bot)” went to Nigora Asretdinova for her project “@Dorilarbot – searching drugs in nearby drugstores”.
  • Shukhrat Agzamov won the 2nd individual nomination, “Best business project based on open data (Telegram-bot)” with his project “@TadbirkorBot – a guide for entrepreneurs on taxes”.

In addition to the above nominations, the contest organizers introduced a special nomination, “Most innovative project”, to award the IUTech team for creating a TICS project, which combines hardware and software to monitor the environment and generate open data.

All four days of the challenge were highly productive. Each team has achieved excellent results, in one way or another by demonstrating a working prototype or data driven story. The award ceremony of the hackathon will be held on December 12, 2016 at the Palace of Youth Creativity. As an important step to promote open data and support people who are able and willing to become more engaged in open data, MIT.UZ Open Data Challenge 2016 is expected to produce long-lasting results.

Participants’ comments:

Akhmadjon Shamsuddinov, a student at the Inha University in Tashkent Due to the fact that I’m in the field of information technology, I expressed interest in the competition «MIT.UZ Open Data Challenge». Today, on Day-2 of the competition a “Hackathon” was held. All young programmers from different parts of our country have gathered here to meet each other and exchange views. Master classes from experts in this sphere gave us good knowledge and fundamental skills. Currently, we are in the training session “Ways to start a business” by Bakhtiyor Khasanov.

Avezov Golib, participation of Navoi region, programmer of OOO “Compass group” The activity of our company is based on development of websites. For today, the number of web sites developed by us has reached 50. In this competition I participate in the nomination “The best social project” with a project based on open data. In particular, I want to acknowledge the role of master classes conducted.

Aziza Akhmedova, student at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy I as a student have very little experience in journalism. The purpose of participation in the Hackathon was the acquisition of practical knowledge, covering digital diplomacy, as well as skills in writing articles and compiling long reads based on open data.