Multi-City DevNet Hackathon 2019

Under the leadership and expertise of Cisco and DevNet, the first nationwide DevNet hackathon was hosted at ITECH in Hamburg, in which a total of three schools - ITECH Hamburg, MMBbS Hannover and OSZ IMT Berlin - competed.

Networks are getting bigger, more complex and more demanding due to dynamic changes. Conventional network components equipped with intelligence and working independently are no longer up to these requirements. Changes require a lot of manual effort, since configurations have to be adapted on many individual devices. This is made even more complex by different operating systems or software versions. At the same time, the susceptibility to errors in the network increases.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is moving away from the concept of distributed intelligence and the use of different operating systems. The intelligence of the network is moved to a central instance and the configuration of individual devices or operating systems is superfluous. The goal is to reduce network maintenance and administration while increasing intelligence and flexibility. In addition, the hardware can concentrate on its actual task, data forwarding, and is relieved of control and management functions. Network structures are virtualized, functions are dynamically assigned and removed via software interfaces via a controller, depending on the needs of the users and the company's security policy.

This is where our DevNet Hackathon comes in with the topic

„Understand the value of APIs for social and economic development in realization on the base of individual skills and the concept of collaboration in teamwork“

Day 1

Monika Stausberg and Ulrich Stritzel welcome the participants at ITECH and present the agenda for the three days: The first day will be largely marked by the "Ideation" phase. The main theme of the hackathon is "Integrated and Adaptable Networks for Human Needs". Day 2 focuses on prototyping, the development and concretisation of a solution. On the third day, the preparation for the pitch, the presentation of the solution and the prototype in front of the jury begins.

The technical team of Cisco, Eugene Morozov and Serges Nanfack, presents the Cisco Design Thinking approach, which is used for the idea phase. Six groups, each made up of participants from the three schools, use the "Empathy Map" to discuss the target group and the problem they want to focus on.

Day 2

The day begins with a tech talk with Kristina Appelt, manager for the system engineers at Cisco. She explains how the technical development of network planning is implemented: from fixed VLANs to the current - automatically managed - networks. Kristina is also the expert in the morning who gives the individual teams feedback on the process they have started at a first checkpoint.

The most important task today is the prototyping phase: working on the individual prototypes in the individual teams. The participants complete their problem definition and also define the possible solution approaches. Now all teams are in the process of practically realizing their prototypes.

The prototypes should already meet the following criteria:

  • Programmable network infrastructure
  • API integration
  • Data-dependent decisions
  • ease of use

In the afternoon there will be a second checkpoint. Ayca Ruppert from Cisco, who is responsible for DevNet all over Germany, will be there. From her perspective she gives the technical feedback for all teams. All in all a very challenging and exciting day with a lot of learning growth!

Day 3

The tension is rising, this afternoon it's all about! The preparations for the pitch and the presentations in front of the jury dominate the last day.

There will be a last expert checkpoint with Ayca Ruppert to get help for the implementation and presentation of your own project.

Ayca focuses the groups on developing a red line for the presentation. Her recommendations: Have a clear line in your presentation! Make milestones for handing over to team members during the presentation! Don't get bogged down in details! Practice, practice, practice until the presentation works in your sleep! And always smile :)

During the day, all groups prepare a "Hackathon Map", in which they name their problem, describe the solution verbally and technically (Flowchart, Logical Network Topology, Sequence Diagram, API Integration Map) as well as make first considerations about profitability.

In addition, all groups take the opportunity to prepare intensively for the pitch in front of the jury. The requirements are challenging: the presentation must be in English, all group members must be actively involved and only five minutes are available for their own presentation (plus three minutes for answering questions from the jury).

In the afternoon, the jury arrives. The five jurors are:

  • Mark Hadewig (Albis Company)
  • Christian Wiedemeier of the AWO Academy for Education and Integration
  • Markus Wehmeyer, Head of IT Infrastructure Department (ITECH Vocational School)
  • Helge Paulsen, Teacher for Application Development and IT Systems (Vocational School ITECH)
  • Vanessa Verstegen-Häntsch for the Cisco Networking Academy

the first step is to brief the participants on the guidelines according to which they worked. The solution approaches of the individual groups should follow the thematic guidelines of the hackathon ("Integrated and Adaptable Networks for Human Needs") including the addition "and make it visible" as well as fulfil the four criteria:

  • networking
  • API integration
  • user experience
  • data analytics

The evaluation of the jury will then be based on the following points:

  • Solution to problem match
  • Creativity and originality
  • Potential social impact
  • Appropriateness of use of technology
  • Business opportunity
  • Quality of the prototype
  • Quality of the presentation

Then the presentations start. And wow! It is fascinating what is possible in 2.5 days!

"Push to individual learning" deals with the question of how to compensate for the loss of instruction through individual learning recommendations: "If a teacher or administrator cancels a lesson in the calendar our product will push a fast notification with customized content for individual students. Therefor our product is connected to a Database, Office 365 and Microsoft Flow API with the programming language Python." The group works with a role-playing game, has created a chatbot as a demo and provides the jury with mobile phones to demonstrate their solution.

"Health-E" follows, also with role play and chatbot demo. The group pursues the idea of facilitating communication between nurses and doctors: "Secure communication platform for hospitals with the goal to regain more time for nurses to take care of their patients".

"Bugtracker" wants to facilitate the work of administrators and relieve first level support, which is confronted with unspecific error messages from users: "The Bugtracker is there to detect error messages and to ask the user if they should be reported. If he confirms with Yes, the logs are sent to the responsible admin, who can then process them better than with the description of the user." This group has also prepared an app demo.

The "Fast log" group has also chosen network administrators as its target group: "Our solution provides network administrators in small businesses with a way to access the syslog of Cisco routers in a fast and efficient way. Instead of manually connecting to each and every router, memorizing all the different paths and commands to get the information needed to troubleshoot, we give you a way to do it with one click."

"Safetube" deals with the question of how parents can make it easier to block certain websites and contributions for their children by means of a blacklist: "Children are the most sensitive and important group of our society which has to be protected specially from harming with disturbing content. Our product makes sure that the parents are having control over what their kids are watching on YouTube and keep them safe from negative impact on their mental and social health."

The "easyShopping" group is looking into the question of how consumers can do their shopping in a more targeted way by clarifying in advance whether and in what quantity a desired product is available in shops near them and where the product can be found in the shop: "The core user needs to find products quick. The user will use an app to find where products are located and gets directed to the product." 

The jury is very impressed with all the contributions. All six groups have shown a strong presentation and do not make decision-making easy. Jury withdraws to deliberations.

At the end of the day, the decisive factor for the decision is the strengths of the project ideas in terms of content. The jury first agrees on the three best project ideas and then considers them separately again.

At the end, we have the following winners:

3rd place: "Easy shopping"

A very strong idea with exciting economic aspects for implementation. Not only the consumer sees its advantages and can save himself superfluous ways. Companies can also pursue their own interests with the large amount of data that is collected within the framework of the app.

2nd place: "Push to individual learning"

A solution for a big, urgent problem in the German education system: loss of instruction due to lack of substitution possibilities. And an impressive project presentation of the group in the pitch puts "Push to individual learning" in a strong second place.

1st place: "Health-E"

Decisive here is the great social impact of this idea. Who doesn't like it when there is more time available for direct patient contact? In addition, a great pitch that conveys the idea and implementation very well in the short time available, with the central slogans. Thus "Health-E" catapults itself right to the front. Congratulations!

A big thank you to all participants and congratulations to all groups for the great work in the past days!

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