DCP Student Wins “Hackathon”

Ali Komeily, left, was congratulated by UF President Kent Fuchs, second from left.

DCP doctoral candidate Ali Komeily was recently named a co-winner of the Smart Cities Student Hackathon, organized by Collaborations to ENable TRansitional cyberinfrastructure Applications (CENTRA) and held in Benton Hall on UF’s campus.

“In this 23-hours-long hackathon, I decided to develop a product which can help both public and private sectors,” Komeily stated. “The core product is under the umbrella of location intelligence. Specifically, I developed a scalable data retrieval (i.e. using API’s), analysis and visualization platform to help current and future business owners, policymakers and citizens gain deeper insights about their area of interest. The product was tested for the City of Gainesville and is designed and developed to be seamlessly scaled to the national level.”

If you are unsure what a hackathon is, you’re probably not alone. Komeily, who has master’s degrees in computer science and civil engineering, referenced Wikipedia’s definition: “A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers and others, often including subject-matter-experts, collaborate intensively on software projects.”

“This specific hackathon was centered around Smart Cities to build applications and platforms to help cities become more data-driven,” Komeily added. The contest allowed him to use his experience from his doctoral studies in Design, Construction and Planning.

The other winning team, which included UF computer engineering student Parth Patel, created a web application to visualize data from Gainesville’s open data portal to help new businesses decide where to locate. Both teams have agreed to combine their efforts and develop a joint product.

For winning this hackathon, Komeily and the other team will be awarded an expenses-paid trip to Japan to present the joint product at the Annual CENTRA Meeting in spring 2018.

The two winning teams also presented in front of attendees at the first Smart UNiversity TOWNS (SUNTOWNS) workshop in Gainesville on April 12.

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