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Government Hackathon: Seattle IT Contributes to Winning Project

When King County Information Technology (KCIT) teamed up with Amazon Web Services to put on a Government Hackfest last month, Seattle Information Technology (Seattle IT) employees were all in. The challenge of the Hackfest was to develop government solutions using digital assistants, artificial intelligence, business intelligence, and big data technologies within the Amazon Web Services ecosystem.

The first of three teams, which included Lawrence Yu, Brandon Ha, Jim Thurnau, and Kenneth Wong analyzed house and structure fires in Seattle to determine if the age of each structure had any correlation with the fire.

“We used Seattle’s Open Data Portal to gather data including 911 calls and when the property was built,” said Brandon Ha, a senior software application developer in Applications. “We used Tableau to map it out.”

“It was like the data version of iron chef,” said Kenneth Wong, a senior business analyst in Applications. “You had the ingredients and had to determine what to cook in a short amount of time.”

Their team did find that older homes, especially those built in the late 90’s, had more tendency to catch on fire.

The team of Steve Weston, Tom Puskas, Tuan Vuong, and Rufi Mallick produced an Alexa skill to provide information on scheduled events called “Event Tracker” at the Seattle Center. The team used Amazon Web Services Lambda, the Alexa skill, and an existing public web service.

This project is being developed by Slalom and will be made available to the public later in the summer. Here’s an example of what the skill will allow you to ask:

“Hey Alexa, …. “
“Tell me what is going on is Seattle Center today, Tomorrow or the weekend”
“Tell me when is Paul Simon playing next”
“Which events are for Children”

The winning team, which included members of KCIT including Kam Suen, Mike Jeppesen, and Dale Brandenstein, as well as Seattle IT’s Jeffrey Stewart. The team produced an Alexa skill to provide available parking spaces at the City’s e-Park garages. They used Lambda function, as well as data from the City’s public facing internet site.

“We didn’t create new data; but rather, we equipped a digital assistant with that data,” said Jeff Stewart, cross platform services manager in Applications.  “This enables people to get to the data faster from their hand’s free mobile assistant while en route downtown.”

Here’s how the Seattle Center Parking App will work: Instead of going to the Seattle Center Website, you can ask Alexa the following:

“Hey Alexa, ask Seattle e-Park about Pike Place garage?” …Pike Place garage currently has 347 parking spaces available.
“Ask Seattle e-Park where is Pike Place?”  …Pike Place garage is located at 1531 Western Ave.
“Ask Seattle e-Park what is near Pike Place?”  …Convention Center, PSP Cobb,…

All who participated say it was a good, but grueling experience and a great way to network with government employees who are in the same field.