#HackTarlac2015: The Tarlac Hackathon Challenge

Date Originally Published: January 30, 2015
Date Republished: October 13, 2017

Following our string of hackathons—including last November’s Procurement Hack—the Open Data Task Force recently helped organize #HackTarlac2015, a project of the Provincial Government of Tarlac in partnership with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) and Microsoft Philippines. From January 24-25, 2015, developers, designers, and data gurus gathered in Tarlac City to brainstorm technological solutions for community concerns. During the event, the Task Force was represented by Nick Castro, Mushi Manza, Edgar Magturo, and Outreach Lead Ivygail Ong.

Encompassing such areas as tourism, emergency services, traffic, employment, and health, the #HackTarlac2015 problem statements challenged participants to not only come up with innovative solutions to local issues, but also to effectively communicate them through appealing, easy-to-use apps.

Specifically, the problem statements presented to the hackers were:

1. How can we better promote tourism in Tarlac?
2. How can we integrate geographic information system (GIS) data and community/user involvement to facilitate quick emergency responses and monitor traffic?
3. How can we help bridge the gap between jobseekers and potential employers?
4. How can we more effectively disseminate information about health services in the province?

As with previous hackathons, #HackTarlac2015 began with breakout sessions and consultations. The teams sat down with technologists and data experts, who gave them briefings on the tools and information they would need to develop their apps. They also discussed ideas for possible solutions to the problem statements, as applied to the specific needs of Tarlac province.

The rest of Day 1 was devoted to actual hacking, which lasted well into the night and until the next morning. A total of 12 teams joined the competition. Some of them had traveled from as far away as Batangas, Nueva Ecija, and Metro Manila. All of them were able to come up with apps, which they presented to the judges in the afternoon of Day 2. The five-member panel was composed of Jojo Zapanta of the Provincial Government of Tarlac, Marianne Jimenez of the Community Base Monitoring System (CBMS) program of the Provincial Government of Tarlac, Ivygail Ong of Open Data Philippines, Lea Marasigan of ULAP, and Martin Laureta of Microsoft Philippines.

These are the official results:

First Place
TGIS (Tarlac Geographical Information System) by Team mh406
RK Aranas, Cham Mamador, Ian Panganiban

TGIS is a web mapping application geared toward tourism promotion. It shows the geographic and relative positions of local interest points to help tourists plan their Tarlac trip.

Second Place
myTarlac by Team CodeBuddy
Ericson Luciano, Patrick Ofilada, Meng David

With the myTarlac app, users can access offline information about health care providers, employment opportunities, tourism highlights, and hotline numbers in Tarlac. An accompanying web portal is also available for local government units (LGUs), allowing them to edit the information displayed on the app and disseminate SMS alerts to users.

Third Place
Job Portal for TPNP by Team Kooders
Alleo Pineda Indong, Nina Kristel Cheng, Rachel Jaro, Aubrey Suba

Job Portal for TPNP is a website that allows users to search for and request access to job training courses. It also provides real-time statistics to future employers as well as real-time monitoring of trainees.

The winning teams went home with cash prizes. In the coming months, they will continue to work with the Provincial Government of Tarlac in order to further improve their apps.

#HackTarlac2015 serves as an example of data going local. Whereas previous hackathons tended to focus on national issues such as disaster preparedness and procurement, the Tarlac Hackathon Challenge brought into the spotlight community issues like tourism and employment. It is an example of the many avenues yet to be explored within Open Data, and of the potential of data-based technology to help solve real problems on both the local and national scale.