‘Blind Hacks’ on cloud nine


Smart solution: Wei Jiat showcasing his team’s app that makes public transport easier for PWD.

UNIVERSITI Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) added another notch to its belt when its infomation and technology (ICT) students emerged third runner-up in the “Build On, Malaysia 2020 – Empowering Your Future” competition.

The virtual hackathon was organised by Amazon Web Services (AWS), together with its partners – Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Smart Selangor Delivery Unit and Smart Selangor.

The annual competition, which saw the participation of 40 teams this year, focuses on cloud computing technology innovations led by AWS for students across Malaysia.

The competition, held on Sept 17, was supported by organisations such as Fintech Academy, Healthcare Fintech Alliance and DreamCatcher.

Brain Hacks – the team that did UTAR proud – comprised students How Wei Jiat, Derrick Teh Zhi Xian, Chen Yu Xuan, Yap Wen Song and Tan Jing Jie from the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (FICT).

Supervised by their lecturer Dr Cheng Wai Khuen, the team won a cash prize of US$750 (RM3,092), a trophy and a silver medal each for their project titled “An Interactive Dashboard for People with Disabilities (PWD) Analytic”.

Brain Hacks team leader Wei Jiat said their project focused on public transport accessibility for people with disabilities.

The number of PWD in the workforce, he said, is rising yearly. Hence, the need for public transport for PWD has increased.

One of the main mobility barriers experienced by PWD is the public transport, in terms of urban and architectural design, as well as information communication – for example, where to board and alight.

Given the importance of urban planning and the duration needed to bring about change, it is critical for the government to understand the population distribution of PWD in the community to identify critical areas to improve accessibility, he added.

“We wanted to create an application that would help PWD when using public transport. The aim is to gather relevant PWD information such as trajectory movement and PWD distribution.

“Through data analytics, we can help urban planners make better decisions in urban planning.”

Wei Jiat said they joined the competition with the intention of developing a solution that is beneficial to society.

“By participating, we were also able to improve our knowledge of cloud computing. It was a great experience to work on a hands-on project and apply our coding skills in real life.”

Cheng said the hackathon provided students with a platform that challenged their problem-solving skills with cloud technologies.

“The students held their discussions and presentations fully online – a new experience brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am elated with their achievement because the students took their own initiative in finishing all the assignments, from proposal writing to system development.

“The team was among the top five finalists from 50 selected proposals. I laud their persistence in completing the two-month project, ” he said, adding that cloud computing is one of the most disruptive technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“At the FICT, we have always introduced and embedded these in-demand ICT skills in our curriculum.

“This hackathon was an opportunity for them to practise the skills they’ve learnt.”

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