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Haze hackathon gives rise to ‘fantastic’ app ideas

SINGAPORE — Health advice based on the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading at one’s location — and personalised according to health status. A “haze alarm” that informs users of the PSI level through sound, for the convenience of people who cannot read PSI updates.

The winning team, Hazero, came up with an app idea, called Haze0, to give people practical health advice on what to do based on PSI levels at their precise location. Photo: Nanyang 
Technological University

The winning team, Hazero, came up with an app idea, called Haze0, to give people practical health advice on what to do based on PSI levels at their precise location. Photo: Nanyang
Technological University

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SINGAPORE — Health advice based on the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading at one’s location — and personalised according to health status. A “haze alarm” that informs users of the PSI level through sound, for the convenience of people who cannot read PSI updates.

These were some of the ideas for mobile applications that participants of the Hyper Haze Hack came up with in a span of four hours today (Oct 13).

Held at Google’s Singapore headquarters, the hackathon was organised by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and supported by search giant Google and the SPH Professional Development Fund. The event aimed to enhance media reporting and response to haze through the use of data.

The winning app idea, Haze0, provides users with both the PSI at their precise location and personalised health advisories. Users can input their health information into the app, which would then advise them on what they should do to protect themselves from the haze.

Another application, HAZE-lnut, aimed to help consolidate existing data on haze forecasts to provide its users with information on whether they can to continue with their activities for the day.

The team behind the application, which took third place in the competition, comprised renaissance engineering programme students from NTU. They were inspired by the experience of one of their group members, who was told just half an hour before a marathon that the event had been cancelled. With HAZE-lnut, the team hopes users make better decisions and avoid such incidents.

Judges at the event were particularly impressed by the participants’ creative thinking and ability to think outside the box.

“Overall, the collaboration and innovation we saw was fantastic,” said Mr Andrew Purcell, operations manager at Google and one of the judges. “... It was really fantastic to see things we haven’t thought of before.”

He added that predictive analysis was one of the areas brought up during the hackathon that should be developed further, and felt the event was a “great form to bring everybody together in order to push innovation forward”.

Professor Ang Peng Hwa from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information said: “The haze is a major problem facing Singapore and other countries. What NTU tries to do is bring people from all walks of life, students, IT professionals, app developers, and NGOs together at a common platform to tackle the haze.”

He added: “The ideas from this hackathon will spur innovation and encourage more people to work together to come up with solutions to overcome or be better informed about the haze.”

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