APU Software Engineering Students invention won 1st Prize at Xylem REACH Student Hackathon 2021
Too much rain recently? Flash flood phobia? APU students have responded swiftly with an early warning system for flood mitigation.
“Team SwiftBeacon” comprising four Software Engineering students from Diploma and Bachelor degree programmes defeated hundreds of hackers from around the world and walked away with a USD4,000 cash prize in the Xylem REACH Student Hackathon 2021 competition!
Yudhishthra S Sugumaran (team leader), Lee Hau Jun, Chua E Heng, and Chung Wei Qi, created a one-stop software platform that bridged the gap between flood mitigation awareness and swift mitigation procedures.
Yudhishthra S Sugumaran, Lee Hau Jun, Chua E Heng, and Chung Wei Qi, created a one-stop flood-mitigation platform that won them the 1st Prize in Xylem REACH Student Hackathon 2021.
This solution is close to us, Malaysian, as we face seasonal floods nuisance posed by Northeast Monsoon lasting from October to March, on top of flash floods and tidal floods that occur unexpectedly in urban cities and residential areas. According to a study, the annual flood disasters in this country causes losses of about USD 274 million.
“We created SwiftBeacon. The idea behind the name came with the fact that we wanted our product to be proactive in finding and predicting help requests - ‘beacons’ from flood-prone residents. It was an interactive website prototype that was designed using Figma,” said Yudhishthra.
They were mentored by Ms Abbhirami Sivarajan, a lecturer in the School of Business and advisor of the Integrated Sustainability & Urban Creativity Centre (ISUC) Student Chapter at Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU).
Organized by Xylem Inc., a large American water technology provider, REACH Student Hackathon 2021 was held from October 6th to 10th, in which participants or teams had to “hack” together software-based projects to solve global water and sustainability challenges.
Team SwiftBeacon managed to impress the panel of judges with a 6-minute video pitch, setting themselves apart from participants from around the world, and emerged as 1st prize winner.
The problem statement in Team SwiftBeacon’s 6-minute video pitch, depicting the number of people affected in the flood incidents.
About the Sustainability Project
The main concern among residents in flood-prone areas is insufficient time to prepare for evacuation or sometimes help arrives too late. Hence, Team SwiftBeacon focused on building features that solved these problems.
By including an Augmented Reality (AR) model, the first goal of creating this interactive website was to inform the at-risk residents of potential hotspots of the flood occurring and provide a list of evacuation sites that they could go to.
With artificial intelligence (AI) system, the second goal was to provide curated information blocks to residents who knew that their area was at risk of being in a flood; the third goal was to enable the response agencies to have a broad overview of all the at-risk residents and the corresponding risk levels.
“SwiftBeacon”, an interactive website prototype, serving as a one-stop software platform that bridged the gap between flood mitigation awareness and swift mitigation procedures.
During the hackathon, the team constantly aligned the impact of their solutions with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals; the team achieved three targets, namely 11.5 – reducing the number of people affected by water-related disasters; 13.1 – strengthen resilience to climate-related hazards and natural disasters; and 13.3 – build knowledge and capacity to meet climate change, making this platform a practical and implementable solution whilst addressing real-world problems.
Team SwiftBeacon achieved three targets of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Check out more about SwiftBeacon by watching this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeB4R3fVrzw
The team leader, Yudhishthra S Sugumaran, 19, who is from Bangsar, a product of Methodist Boys’ Secondary School Kuala Lumpur, explained the inception of SwiftBeacon, “We used Figma to create a prototype of this website, mainly to showcase user the journey of our product, and we specifically focused on building features that can solve some of the problems during flood incidents.”
Yudhishthra is currently embarked on the Diploma programme in Information and Communication Technology (with a specialism in Software Engineering) at APU.
On their winning factors, the team leader, with 5-time hackathon experience, leveraged the expertise of each of his teammates. Yudhishthra’s coursemates, Lee Hau Jun and Chua E Heng, both 19 years old, have good expertise in prototyping and research. Hence, they were tasked to figure out what was lacking in the existing flood mitigation systems and came out with a prototype.
“I was involved with the User Interface (UI) design for three-and-a-half days and finally completed the prototyping on the fourth day. During Day-4 of the hackathon, I spent most of my time on designing UI,” recalled Lee, whose hometown is in Ipoh, Perak, but went to SMK Pusat Bandar Puchong (1).
“Given that we only had two days to come up with a prototype, it was a nerve-wracking process,” narrated Chua, who is from Klang, an alumnus of SMK Bukit Tinggi.
Chung Wei Qi, 19, a BSc (Hons) in Software Engineering student who is from Ipoh, Perak, completed her secondary school studies at Poi Lam High School. As she is skilful in designing, she was mainly tasked with the creation of the pitch deck for project submission.
As for Yudhishthra himself, he used his previous experiences in hackathons to guide the team to do the right research, validate the problem statements, incorporate user intent, and ensure what they designed reflected in their solution accurately.