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A modern Robin Hood uses data analytics at Hack The Future 2019

Stealing from the rich to give back to the poor is the red thread in Robin Hood’s story. Coincidentally, it was also the theme of this year’s Hack the Future, a hackathon organized by the Cronos Group. Using data analytics, transformations, and more, Agiliz was there at ‘The Heist‘ to turn Robin Hood into a modern-day data-wielding business intelligence (BI) hero.

The Heist

“A carefully selected group of creatives and hackers will devise their master plan – a global redistribution of wealth, taken from the corrupt governments and corporations of the world and given back to the people…” That’s what The Heist entailed. The participating Cronos companies had to design hacking challenges for students to unleash their inner Robin Hoods and steal from the wealthy. Agiliz took up the task and gave 16 students – who worked in pairs – a chance at heroism by letting them use data to plan the perfect robbery.

Masterminding the plan

No matter how good you are at lockpicking or blowing up a vault door, without a plan you’ll be caught in no time. So we armed our eight pairs of students with the free MicroStrategy Desktop application. For ammo, they had ten data sets with information on the different rooms in the building, the vault, staff, police patrols and more. The first task was to locate the vault and pick a time to strike.

Cracking the vault

No easy task laid in front of our students. Using data manipulation techniques such as concatenates and substrings, they needed to determine which room contained the vault. Through data joins, they had to combine the sets on building information, power usage, temperature control and more. Special attention had to be paid to the performance of the auto joins by using data set links instead of a data wrangler. After successfully doing so, they had to extract insights from the joined sets with pattern recognition or other data analytics techniques. For instance, it turned out one room had a significantly higher power consumption and was kept at a different temperature. Chances were this was where the vault was located. In a similar fashion, they needed to determine the ideal timing and the vault password.

No boring Excel sheets

While our hackers are analytic masterminds, their partners-in-crime who had to pull off The Heist aren’t. So part of the challenge was to present the insights gained from data analytics in a visually appealing and understandable way. Only then could their accomplices know what they had to do. Storytelling through data visualization was an important factor in the mission’s success!

Plan your escape

Getting caught red-handed carrying jute bags with dollar signs is just embarrassing. So our would-be crime lords had to plan an escape route. Through complex calculations using derived and level metrics within their BI tools, they had to come up with a timeframe to escape and determine how much money they could grab before the time was up. Turns out the best time to rob a vault is when the guards are taking a toilet break!

Only the cunning survive

There was one vault that needed to be cracked so only one pair could come to fruition. Our jury of highly professional crime bosses picked two students from the Thomas More college. During the day they proved to be the most industrious and always asked the right questions. They also had a knack for visual storytelling, steering away from raw data and presenting their solutions graphically in dashboards. Congratulations!

The winners, Christophe De Greef and Liam Steyaert, together with our Agiliz coaches, Jordy Vercammen and Laurens Wolf.

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Posted on Dec 18, 2019