Jump to content
  • TAF23 Hackathon Hub - Mitigate Hunger with Data

    Participating in The Analytics Forum 2023 Hackathon? TAF23 Hackathon participants can ask questions, form teams, and check for resources here.


    Welcome to TAF23 Hackathon!

    Welcome, brilliant hackers, to The Analytics Forum 2023 Hackathon, where we'll be delving deep into the issue of food deserts! We're thrilled to have you all join us in this collaborative effort to explore innovative solutions and insights. By leveraging your diverse skills and expertise in data analysis, we aim to better understand the complex factors contributing to food deserts and help bridge the gaps in food accessibility. Together, let's harness the power of data to make a tangible impact on millions of lives and create a more equitable and sustainable future for all. Let the hacking begin! #TAFHACK


    You can register for The Analytics Forum here.


    The Problem: Mapping Food Deserts in the Houston Area

    The history of using geospatial mapping goes back in time to 1854 when a severe cholera outbreak happened in Broad Street near Soho in London that killed 616 people. The physician John Snow is best known for his hypothesis about water contamination being the source of the pandemic. Looking at the public pumps installed on water wells in the area, Snow mapped the deaths spatially around these pumps as dots. The initial results showed that some of the pumps have more deaths clustering than others, which confirms his theory about water contamination. He also uses statistics to show connections between the water source when it?s brought from sewage-polluted areas and cholera outbreaks. Snow?s approach to representing the data geospatially and correlating that with public health was a turning point in epidemiology history, and it influenced and urged the construction of improved sanitation facilities. 



    (?On the Mode of Communication of Cholera? by John Snow, originally published in 1854 by C.F. Cheffins, Lith, Southampton Buildings, London, England.

    The uploaded image is a digitally enhanced version found on the UCLA Department of Epidemiology website, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2278605.)


    The Hackathon

    Our subject is similar (in concept) to what John Snow did back in 1854, except now we have more advanced tools to collect, cleanse, analyze, and present the data. In our hackathon, you will study, analyze, and map the food deserts in the city of Houston using provided census data. A food desert is an area, typically in urban or rural communities, where there is limited access to affordable and nutritious food and groceries. This means that the people living in these areas have difficulty finding and purchasing fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food options. Food deserts often occur in areas where there are few supermarkets or grocery stores. This lack of access to healthy food can lead to poor nutrition and diet-related health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Food deserts can be caused by a variety of factors, including socioeconomic status, distance to grocery stores, and not having accessible transportation whether personal or public. Efforts to address food deserts may include the establishment of community gardens, farmers' markets, and mobile markets, as well as the expansion of public transportation and the opening of new supermarkets and grocery stores in underserved areas. There is no specific ask in the hackathon; instead, there is a goal, which is understanding and making sense of the food deserts, what could be the reason behind their existence, and how can you as a hacker help policymakers and public health officials eliminate or mitigate the effect of food deserts, using the data you have. Making use of Spotfire Mods and Data Functions is encouraged.



    (A picture showing the new location of the replica pump, the handle of which John Snow had removed.)


    Understanding the mapping of food deserts is a great way to identify areas with limited access to healthy and nutritious food and fresh groceries. It also helps policymakers, officials in decision-making positions, and community organizations prioritize areas that are most in need of interventions to improve access to healthy food options. Understanding the causes and extent of food deserts can also help us develop effective solutions to address the problem. For example, if the lack of access to healthy food is due to a lack of transportation options, initiatives to improve public transportation, add more bus stops on food deserts, or provide mobile markets could be effective solutions. Alternatively, if the problem is due to a lack of supermarkets in the area, initiatives to incentivize or support the opening of new supermarkets in underserved areas could be effective. In addition, mapping food deserts can help to raise awareness about the issue, mobilize resources and support to address it, or show where to focus on providing community services. By identifying specific areas where the problem is most acute, we can focus efforts and resources to make a real difference in improving access to healthy food and reducing diet-related health problems.


    (There are approximately half a million Houstonians living in food deserts.)


    The Dataset

    The datasets used in the hackathon are coming from censuses in 2020 and 2021. They contain a variety of information ranging from food stamp data, household-related demographics, and more relevant data.




    Neighborhood Characteristics


    Texas Census Tracts 2020

    Texas Census Tracts Populations 2020

    TX Food Stamps 2020

    TX Non-Vehicle 2020

    TX Poverty 2020

    City of Houston Bus Stops

    Dataset that includes lat/long of bus stops
    Poverty Data

    Anonymous data following 20 million Americans from childhood to their mid-30s. Source (The Opportunity Atlas)


    Judging Criteria







    • The hackathon will be on the 21st of September (9/21/2023), which is the last day of The Analytics Forum 2023.
    • You will be given 8 hours of lab time to finish, make sure you submit your solution before 21st of September (9/21/2023) 11:59 PM (CT)
    • You can work in a team or solo. Teams (max. no of team members is 3) will be given one instance to work on, so make sure you provide all team members with details when submitting your work (only one submission is required per team).

    Offered Software

    Each attendee instance will include the following components:

    • Spotfire Analyst with access to a Spotfire Server that we provide
    • The datasets
    • A starter DXP file to give the attendees a head start
    • The attendees are allowed to use their own software or dataset as long as each additional component is available to all other teams reasonably easily.
    • A copy of the Hackathon description and details of submission process, rules, judging criteria, and other relevant information.
    • Enabling ideation inside remote teams is important. At the same time, we encourage the team members to do the brainstorming outside the Spotfire-provided environment to save their allotted development time efficiently.
    • You can bring any data function you need from our data functions exchange.
    • We have a large library of visualization mods. Make sure you take a look in case you need any custom visualization for your data.

    Submission Process

    Each team will upload their work to a designated space on the web that Spotfire provides by the deadline. The teams are strongly encouraged to spend due time preparing a good presentation of their work. That?s the only way that the judges will see and gauge their work. Submission format:

    • A DXP containing the whole work. The work cannot be spread in more than one DXP. Note that the DXP should be executable by the judges independently.
    • A presentation slide deck explaining the idea, thought process, design principles, value, challenges, value add, and anything else that helps the judges.
    • Optional: a short (<5 minutes) video recording of a demo of the work.


    Need Support? 

    We will offer the attendees a dedicated space here in the TIBCO Community to ask questions and seek support. This will be the primary channel for the attendees to get support. Spotfire staff will monitor the space during the hackathon and provide timely responses.



    Contact Us

    • Email us hackathon@spotfire.com

    • Zoom office hours: Sep 21, 2023 (09:00-10:00 CST) and (02:00-03:00 CST)

    • Ask questions in the questions section below


    Need to Find a Team (Optional)?

    If you are willing to join or form a team, use the comment section below.

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

  • Create New...