SAS Hackathon harnesses technology to solve real-world challenges

The SAS 2022 Hackathon launched and got underway last week, where the South African Hackathon team of eight members have taken their place alongside 69 others worldwide in identifying a real-world problem that can be overcome through the novel application of technology.

Led by Research Developer Michael Austin, the South African Hackathon team from Dake Solutions – one of SAS’s local strategic partners – had been tasked with identifying and challenging a use case and technology that can create social value.

Speaking after the launch event, Kelly Lu, Lead on Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, ‎SAS in South Africa, said: “The SAS Hackathon is a great opportunity to put an innovative idea to the test. Not only are participants provided with software like the SAS Viya platform to build their use case, but they are also given access to SAS training content. Teams will have everything they need to turn their ideas into reality, while also exploring entrepreneurial approaches and networking with fellow innovators.”

Drawing together teams from many sectors including banking, energy, life sciences, insurance and telecoms, this year’s Hackathon entries are dominated by the healthcare space, which shows that there is a global focus on societal health and wellbeing.

Similarly, the proposal from Dake Solutions aims to solve real-world problems of identifying various lung diseases and mitigating the associated risks that these bring. The ability to identify these diseases early and accurately will not only potentially save lives but enhance the industries where lung diseases can impact productivity negatively.

Hari Khamandula, Executive for Technology at Dake Solutions said: “As a leader in analytics, we are excited to collaborate with SAS on a solution that will have a global impact on lung ailments.”

Technologies at the South African team’s disposal include the SAS Cloud environment on Microsoft Azure, the full SAS Visual Data Science and Decisioning stack, open source R and Python.

An adjudication process featuring a jury of experts will determine the finalists in May 2022, based on how well the solution has addressed the use of technology, the process followed and implemented, and the value brought to society through application of the solution. The winning solutions for each category track will be announced in September 2022 at SAS Explore and will receive ongoing support from SAS to be brought to market in viable commercialised form.

Previous winners include a solution led by War on Cancer, a social app and company created by cancer survivor Fabian Bolin and dedicated to improving the lives of everyone impacted by cancer. Members can connect, share stories, ask questions and assist each other in managing cancer.

War on Cancer’s Swedish team, in conjunction with digital transformation consultancy Knowit, won the Startup category in the first ever global SAS Hackathon, creating a solution that improved the app’s ability to help patients with their mental health over time by using the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities of SAS Viya running on Microsoft Azure. The solution uses natural language processing and SAS risk scoring analytics to encourage patients to take action based on research and interactions among War on Cancer members.

Photo caption:

Representatives from both SAS and Dake Solutions gathered at SAS’s local office in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Tuesday, 1 March 2022, for the launch of the Hackathon. Representatives included: Michael Austin, South African team leader and Research Developer from Dake Solutions; Hari Khamandula, Executive for Technology at Dake Solutions; Kelly Lu, Lead on Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence for ‎SAS in South Africa; and Refiloe Oliphant, Channel and Alliances Account Manager for SAS in South Africa.

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For further information please contact:

Mabel Schrimpton / GTM Marketing Lead: South Africa & Sub-Sahara Africa, SAS

Caitlin Hawken/ INK&Co.

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