DIRISA hosted more than 100 delegates in the 2nd Annual DIRISA Student Datathon Challenge which was held as a virtual event from 26 – 29 July 2021. There were 9 participating universities from across the country, and these universities were:

  • University of Mpumalanga (React Local)
  • North West University (Eagles)
  • University of Johannesburg (Impilo Van Data)
  • University of the Witwatersrand (Quality in Quality out)
  • University of Zululand (Data Techs)
  • Mangosuthu University of Technology (Debug Thugs)
  • Vaal University of Technology (Sebenza)
  • Tswane University of Technology (Code Catalyst) and
  • Central University of Technology (CUT Warriors)

Central University of Technology, University of Zululand, Mangosuthu University and Vaal University were participating in the datathon for the first time. The theme of the datathon was “To propose a solution to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Happy Sithole, NICIS: Centre Manager, welcomed the delegates and presented a talk, while keynotes were presented by Dr Sandile Mbatha, a Senior Manager responsible for Research and Policy Advocacy Department in eThekwini Municipality within the Office of Strategic Management and Dr Daniel Adams, Department of Science and Innovation’s Chief Director for Basic Sciences and Infrastructure.

Each team worked on their solutions for three (3) days and on the final day on the 29th of July 2021, they presented their final solutions. A team of 3 judges were responsible for choosing the winning team. These judges were Dr Lameck Amogongo from Namibia University of Technology, Miss Nontembeko Dudeni and Miss Mahlatse Ratsoma both from the Data Science Group in the CSIR (More details about the judges can be viewed on the Datathon website).

Sponsorship prizes included cash from Redhat and tablets from SITHABILE. The first prize was taken by a team of four students from the University of Johannesburg. The winning team members were: Les Bambo, Nardus Saayman, Andries Chimule, and Laaiqa Seedat. The winning team focused on predicting the herd immunity date for South Africa based on the current available vaccination data. The University of Witwatersrand and University of Zululand came second and third. North West University came 4th and received tablets for their effort.  With all these prizes on offer, DIRISA Datathon Challenge seeks to encourage students to always find out how open research data can be used to come up with creative and innovative solutions to some of the country’s problems.

NICIS Centre Manager, Dr Happy Sithole, thanked all stakeholder involved in making this annual event successful during the pandemic.