190221hackathon400Starting next week, from the 25th to the 28th of February 2019, the newest edition of the TIDE Hackathon will take place in Warsaw, Poland.

The TIDE Hackathon is part of a series of events (the Interoperability Continuum) which seeks to further develop cooperation and collaboration in NATO and amongst its members by improving the way that people, processes and technologies are connected to, and interact with each other (also known as interoperability). The TIDE Hackathon helps us to explore and experiment to continuously improve on interoperability through the application of Data Science. Sixteen teams from academia, industry and the military from across the Alliance will be competing with, and against, each other to come up with the best solution to each of the problems posed, by means of coding, modelling or by data visualisation.

This year’s edition of the TIDE Hackathon takes place to tackle the Data Science issues which have been identified during the previous TIDE Sprint, which was held last fall, in Norfolk, Virginia (USA). From these issues three different challenges have been developed, and to help put these issues into context, we focus on humanitarian de-mining activities (as a part of NATO’s Protection of Civilians efforts) and the assessment of large amounts of information collected from Exercise Trident Juncture 18 (the largest NATO exercise since the cold war). The three challenges that the participants will be facing are as follows:

  • The Coding challenge: The teams will compete to develop a solution to answer the question: “Where can I apply my limited resources to support humanitarian demining activities in Iraq”. They will be provided with large amounts of data to answer this question, and figure out where these activities should be prioritised, and with whom the military should collaborate to achieve a final answer to the question. The teams have to take into account that different organisations use different materials for de-mining and execute the de-mining in different ways, which will help us make use of Data Science to identify and prioritise different environmental aspects involved in future NATO operations.
  • The Modelling challenge: This challenge requires the teams to think long and hard about all the organisations and beneficiaries of demining. Teams will be provided with data that they will use to develop a model that will support decision makers as they prioritise where the resources needed to support de-mining will be the most effective. This will take into account the impact de-mining might have for the economy and well-being of the population in the area where de-mining is being conducted, as well as taking into account the impact this might have on future priorities.
  • The Visualisation challenge: Hackathon teams will devise a means of translating large amounts of available data from Exercise Trident Juncture into a tool that will improve decision-makers situational awareness and allow them to plan future operations. Recognising that the amount of data being collected is growing exponentially, the teams will also need to translate large amounts of data into simple and clear visualisations for commanders and decision makers.

Organising the TIDE Hackathon helps NATO to understand how, through innovation, Data Science can make sense of large quantities of data to support NATO’s core tasks. This is increasingly important due to the fact that our battlefields are changing, and the way we approach future operations change with them. To continue to be successful in our mission, transforming the way we look at data, and use it for decision-making is crucial. As is the ability to apply this throughout the Alliance and as such, interoperability (the ability to act as one) plays a key role in enhancing our forces.