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Estonians get 2nd prize at Big Data for Bees hackathon

4. January 2019 - 16:25

On 14-15 December 2018, four Estonians participated at the “Big Data for Bees” hackathon in the Netherlands organised by FarmHack. The participation followed the “Tech for Agriculture” hackathon in June, organised in Tallinn by Garage48 with the support of the Netherlands, which saw five Dutch mentors and four participants join to solve agri-tech problems in 48 hours.

According to the organiser FarmHackNL, the “Big Data for Bees” hackathon was dedicated to supporting the goals of the “National Bee Strategy”. The strategy aims to ensure that pollinators and pollination are sustainably promoted and retained by 2030. Estonia was represented at the “Big Data for Bees” hackathon by two software engineers and two beekeepers: Sigmar Naudi, Rivo Laks, Mart Kullamaa, Vostan Azatyan.

The “Big Data for Bees” hackathon was held in Jheronimus Academy of Data Science in Den Bosch and lasted for 30 hours. Six challenges were presented, all aimed at helping bees and the people working with them. While the participants could choose any challenge they wanted, all four participants from Estonia ended up in one team, trying to figure out how to build a decision support system for beekeepers.

The main issue behind the idea lies in the difficulty and importance of choosing a location for a beehive. A good location is crucial as moving a hive even just 100 metres in another direction can significantly influence the health of bees and the yield of honey. However, choosing the perfect location is never easy as the decision depends on several different factors.

The joint team of Estonian and Dutch participants, called BeeSpot, used datasets provided by Food4Bees and ApiaryMap and expertise of the team’s beekeepers to develop a suitability score map, which shows the places best suited for a beehive and the ones best to be avoided.

Mixing Estonian and Dutch expertise seems to work excellently. "Everybody knows that the Netherlands are very strong in agriculture, everybody also knows that Estonia is very smart in IT, tech and data science, so the idea to bring these two worlds together is amazing", Anne Bruinsma from FarmHack said.

Although the BeeSpot team didn't have much time to work on their idea, they managed to build a prototype which truly impressed the jury and granted them second place and 10 000 euros for the idea’s execution.

The achievement of the Dutch-Estonian joint team is an excellent example of international collaboration. The hackathon was a part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in June in Tallinn by Ms Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands, and Mr Tarmo Tamm, Minister of Rural Affairs of Estonia, and will be followed by several other cooperation activities between Estonia and the Netherlands.

The participation of the Estonian delegation was sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands. The hackathon was powered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. The partners were Naturalis, the national research institute for biodiversity, Wageningen University and Research and JADS, the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science.

The Garage48 Foundation is a non-profit organisation promoting start-ups and entrepreneurship in Estonia, Europe and Africa. Garage48 is a weekend event series where people can turn their ideas into working web and mobile prototypes in just 48 hours.

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