HackZurich 2021 was Europe’s largest hackathon with about 1,500 enthusiastic participants from all over the world. The hackers had 40 hours to solve one of the 18 challenges. The three INODE team members Kate Kosten, Ursin Brunner and Kurt Stockinger teamed up with the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, the Federal Office of Information Technology, Systems and Telecommunication and CORSTAT – the Swiss Conference of regional statistical offices – to provide one of the challenge tasks. The goal of the hackathon was to analyze open government data with ValueNet – a system developed in the INODE project to automatically translate natural language questions into the database query language SQL using a transformer-based neural network architecture. More details can be found at the following web page.

Several teams have built innovative solution sketches on top of ValueNet. Here we show 2min videos of the two most promising projects:

The main takeaway messages are:

  • We are delighted that several Swiss government agencies see the added value of INODE technology for analyzing open government data.
  • While preparing for the hackathon, the INODE team and several Swiss government agencies worked very closely together to harden the code, to improve the user manuals and to prepare new datasets that can be analyzed with INODE services.
  • The hackathon demonstrated that the INODE technology is applicable far beyond the original three use cases of INODE.
  • The hackathon participants showed great creativity in applying technology developed in INODE. In the future, we plan to organize similar events to promote INODE technology and to enable technology transfer from research to practical use.