A Day of Data-Driven Inspiration at the HPE Living Progress Challenge

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A Day of Data-Driven Inspiration at the HPE Living Progress Challenge

by Joy King, Product Marketing and Field Engagement for Big Data Platform

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.@HPE's Joy King on a day of inspiration at the @HPE_LivingProg Challenge http://bit.ly/2aOojjX @HPE_Software #BigData #innovation
Friday, August 12, 2016 - 8:05am

I had the privilege of being one of five judges for the HPE Living Progress Challenge, a program that issued a challenge – “Millions of people who can’t access the power of technology are being left behind, excluded from a world of opportunity.  What software applications and digital services would you create to improve people’s lives?”  This program made me proud to be an HPE employee and I expected to be impressed.  I didn’t expect to cry.

More than 130 proposals were created and over the course of nine months, the top ten most innovative submissions were selected for our judging panel to consider in a Shark Tank like setting at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  The day began with a stunning example of innovation from the CEO of a company called What3Words.  He shared a remarkable fact – more than 75% of the world including 135 countries suffers from inconsistent, complicated or inadequate addressing systems. This means that around 4 billion people are invisible; unable to report crime; unable to get deliveries or receive aid; and unable to exercise many of their rights as citizens because they simply have no way to communicate where they live.  With the power of the What3words app, these people can participate in the world. 

With that remarkable and inspirational technology solution ringing in my head, the judging began.  All of the ten teams presented their proposals, explained their ability to execute and answered rigorous questions posed by the judges.  Although I knew this was a challenge focused on the development of software applications and digital services, I didn’t truly realize the central role that data would play.  Each application, each proposal, each discussion centered on the value from data. Machine learning to map volunteers with opportunities to contribute, analytics that can identify crime, and sentiment analysis and contextual search to ensure citizens voices are heard by government officials … all built on data.

After six amazing hours and a fair amount of watery eyes as I realized the pain that so many people face every day all over the world, the time had come to decide.  The winners will receive resources and technologies to bring their ideas to reality, sponsored and supported by Hewlett Packard Enterprise. While each of the ten finalists had amazing passion and vision, we had to make choices, and we did. 

You can watch a replay of the finals, here.

The World Wildlife Fund will build web-based tool leveraging HPE Vertica technology that can identify illegal fishing in all areas of the world that both threaten the environment and hurt local fisherman and villages. Fish are the most heavily traded food commodity globally and only a high performance advanced analytics database like Vertica can handle the scale and speed needed to address this challenge in time to catch the criminals.

MentorME will use a mobile gaming approach to help students identify and connect with their perfect mentor. Matches will be made based on data including language, skills, interests, geography and more. The platform will enable progress to be tracked and will provide students with both metrics and a scorecard so they can track their progress while also providing insights into what is needed for mentoring programs – and students – to succeed.

Social Volunteer Discovery is a matching program app as well, helping people discover volunteer opportunities online leveraging their social networks and common interests. By applying machine learning through Haven OnDemand and a persuasive user interface design, the goal is to drive social change, connecting people to causes that they can help using their time, talent, money, and social influence.

Helping increase their WORTH addresses a problem that I honestly hadn’t even recognized.  Today more than 12 million adults in our world who are excluded from commercial financial services.  But they don’t give up.  Instead, they are creating informal financial groups, accessing self-generated savings and credit services. The m-ledger mobile application provides a simple yet reliable recordkeeping system for these informal credit groups, directly increasing their return on investment while decreasing their opportunity costs.  This solution will create the very first step, well before the small micro loans provided by companies like Kiva, to people, especially women, who have no choice right now but to go it alone. (And yes, this is one that made me cry.)

I have always been proud of the impact of our Big Data Platform technologies.  But as I flew home from New York that evening, and as I write this blog post today, my passion for what we do has never been stronger.  I have always known that our software powers some of the world’s largest and most well-known brands.  But sometimes I forget that the same technology can and is changing the lives of millions of people who no longer are being left behind.  I’ll work very hard today, tomorrow and always to keep this going.