MTech Students Clinched Win at LTA Hackathon

The NUS Master of Technology (Knowledge Engineering) Team, Team DND, participated in the LTA Transport and Youth Hackathon and won the “Best Application for Active Mobility” prize through applying what they have learnt in the programme.

The Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) organised the LTA Transport and Youth Hackathon on 16 to 19 April 2015. It attracted 180 hackers from local universities, polytechnics and technology companies to design and develop transport mobile applications to solve commuting problems and to improve transport experience. A team of students from NUS-ISS’ Master of Technology (Knowledge Engineering) programme participated and went away with the top prize for “Best Application for Active Mobility”.

The MTech (KE) team (photo on left, with Singapore's Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong), made up of five students - Nicholas Lim, Cai Bowen, Tran Duy Canh, Devendra Desale, XiangTao Wang and Jasmine Ng - called their group “Team DND”. Their winning idea was to develop a mobile social network application for the cycling community, called “SHARE ROUTE”. Designed to encourage cycling as a means of transportation, the application allows cyclists to share routes which are safer and faster.

“We brainstormed and debated numerous ideas before deciding on a solution that will address the many cycling concerns of the public,” said Nicholas Lim, a representative of Team DND. He added, “Active mobility is fast gaining momentum in Singapore through many initiatives by LTA, such as the intra-town connected paths. We wanted to develop an application to support that and one which is able to stay updated over time.”

The LTA Transport and Youth Hackathon is an initiative from the Singapore’ Smart Nation plan that seeks to encourage community co-creation of land transport applications to improve public transport experience for commuters locally. Focused on the three main issues of public transport, mobility and special needs, 30 teams competed for the top prizes. To help participants create mobile applications that will be realistic and meaningful, LTA provided participants with datasets, such as locations of traffic lights, ERP rates and car park availability, among many others.  There were also industry mentors to guide the teams through and help shape their projects from ideation to reality.

“We made use of the LTA data set consisting of 36,000 traffic lights in Singapore and reduced the traffic lights to 500 clusters, making it visually useful so cyclists may want to share routes in consideration to the density of traffic lights in the area,” said Nicholas.

The students believed that what they have learnt in their graduate programme is the winning formulae which led them to secure the top prize.

“The knowledge and hands-on workshops which the MTech (KE) programme provided came in useful when we encountered a critical problem that can only be solved statistically using a particular data science technique. As a result, we were able to make use of a data set which seemed useless, and transformed it into something useful and which can be easily interpreted,” shared Nicholas. He added “We were the only team who made use of this data set, thanks for the MTech (KE) programme!”

Commuters may have an opportunity to use SHARE ROUTE in the future, as the team was approached by two companies who are interested in investing in the product.

“We are honoured that there are vendors who are interested to help us develop our mobile application, though nothing is confirmed yet at the moment,” said Nicholas, “it was also great receiving our award from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. He was impressed with our product and believed that it has the potential to be developed for other forms of active mobility, such as walking and running.”

“I am extremely proud of Team DND’s achievements in the hackathon,” said Charles Pang, Chief of Master of Technology (Knowledge Engineering) programme, “There is only that much skills and knowledge that we can impart to our students within the limits of the coursework. The team has demonstrated far more capability and ingenuity in their winning application.”

Summing up their experience, Nicholas said, “This experience will last us a lifetime! Winning the prize is a great encouragement to us, who are all aspiring Data Scientists.”

The Master of Technology (Knowledge Engineering) programme is designed to equip IT professionals with the essential knowledge and practical experience to become a specialist and lead the development of intelligent systems using knowledge bases to provide effective business solutions for their organisations.

Application for the January 2016 intake is now open. For more information, click here. For upcoming Preview talks, click here.