Hacking Big Data and Open Data in San Diego #Hack4SD

Dates: February 18, 25, 26
Location: Peterson Gym (Rm 153)
San Diego State University
Cost: FREE
Contact: Prof. Amy Schmitz Weiss
Prof. Ming-Hsiang Tsou
Prof. Atsushi Nara
Github: Github
Organized by Human Dynamic at Mobile Age @ SDSU


Thank you so much for your great participations of the final round presentations.
After a long judge deliberation, the judge panel has announced our winners of the 2017 Big Data Hackathon.


1st Prize



Data Pros

2nd Prize




3rd Prize



WaterGirlz and Boy

Most Innovative Proposal Ideas




Strongest Teamwork




Most Thorough Design and Development
(Award by Perspectium)




2017 Hackathon Theme

The hackathon will focus on one theme:

Public Health


Teams will have an opportunity to win awards for the best overall project.
Just create an app, platform and/or technology that can tie into the public heath theme to win the prizes!


1st Prize


2nd Prize


3rd Prize


No need to have all the skills—that’s what TEAMWORK is for!
We will help you to find team members during the first day.
Please join us if you have:

  • Journalistic, creative or innovative ideas
  • Business or marketing savvy
  • Data sense or math/statistics concepts
  • Public health domain knowledge
  • Computational Linguistics or Digital Humanities skills
  • Mapping or programming skills


Lots of free and open San Diego datasets!


We've compiled a list of resources, APIs, libraries, and ideas just for you.

1. Prezi 2. Emaze
3. Google Slides 4. Libre Office
5. Google Docs
1. Amazon EC2 2. Github pages
3. Github 4. Dropbox
5. Heroku
Fire Sharing
1. Dropbox 2. Box
3. Google Drive 4. Amazon S3
5. FireZilla
Cloud Data Stores
1. Firebase 2. Parse
3. Backendless 4. Amazon S3
5. Amazon EC2
Project Management
1. Github 2. Trello
3. ASANA 4. Slack
Text Editors
1. Sublime Text 2. Atom
3. Notepad++ 4. TextWrangler

2017 Agenda





08:30 – 09:00 am

Check-in (Starbucks Coffee)

09:00 – 09:30 am

Opening Remarks and Orientation

Dr. Amy Schmitz Weiss

Dr. Ming Tsou

09:30 – 11:00 am

Public Health Presentations by Experts

     1. Introduction to Local Public Health Data

     2. Storytelling with Data

     3. Sensor Technologies for Smart Health

     Coffee Break (10:15 - 10:30 am)

     4. Regifting Health Data

     5. Using electronic health records for population health research

     6. Web-based Mapping Tools for Health Disparities

Leslie Ray

Brandon Quester

Dr. Kee Moon

Xavier Leonard

Dr. Caroline Thompson

Dr. Su Han

11:00 – 12:00 pm

Question Presentation & Group Breakouts

12:00 – 01:00 pm

Lunch and Team Formation (Pizza) - Submit Team Name and Members

01:30 – 02:30 pm

Design Thinking Workshop with Kevin (coaches available throughout afternoon)

02:30 – 02:45 pm

Starbucks Coffee Break

02:45 – 03:30 pm

Process of Tools / Project plan basics

03:30 – 04:30 pm

Prepare project plan/proposal (meeting with coaches)

04:30 pm

Project Proposal Submission deadline (using Github)

04:30 – 05:30 pm

Pitching Ideas based on the preliminary proposal/project plan
(individual presentations in PG 153 at a time).
5 mins per team (access to Basecamp)

05:30 – 06:00 pm

Conclusions and Next Steps
(Dinner on your own)

Prof. Ming Tsou

06:00 pm

End of Day 1
(Teams may continue to meet). The room is open until 9 p.m.





08:30 – 09:00 am

Check-in and Breakfast

09:00 – 10:00 am

Overview & Public Health Lightning Talks by Experts


10:00 – 12:00 pm

Team-Mentor Interactions (mentors check-in with the teams) | Hacking

12:00 - 01:00 pm

Lunch (Pizza) and Preparing Team Pitches

01:00 – 05:00 pm

Hacking | Learning Stations (R, Tableau, etc.)

05:00 pm

Team Check-ins + Q&A for hosts and mentors, prepare for the final presentation

05:30 – 06:00 pm

Dinner on your own

06:00 pm

End of Day 2
(Teams may continue to meet until 9 p.m.)





08:30 – 09:00 am

Check-in and Breakfast

09:00 – 09:30 am

Overview & Q&A Session

09:30 – 12:00 pm

Hacking and Practice Pitch Time

Final project submission DUE time: 12:00 pm (To Github)

12:00 - 01:00 pm

Lunch (Pizza)

01:00 - 03:10 pm

Team Presentations
(5 - 10 mins presentation + 3 mins for Q&A)

03:10 - 04:00 pm

Judge Deliberations

04:00 - 05:00 pm

Awards and Closing Ceremony

05:00 pm

End of Event


Dr. Ming-Hsiang (Ming) Tsou (Geography, SDSU)


Dr. Ming-Hsiang (Ming) Tsou is a Professor in the Department of Geography, San Diego State University (SDSU) and the Director of Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA). His research interests are in Human Dynamics, Social Media, Big Data, Visualization, Internet Mapping, Web GIS, and Mobile GIS. http://map.sdsu.edu/tsou/

Dr. Ilkay Altintas (San Diego Supercomputer Center)

Chief Data Officer

Ilkay Altintas is the Director for the Center of Excellence in Workflows for Data Science at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), UCSD. Since joining SDSC in 2001, she has worked on different aspects of scientific workflows as a principal investigator and in other leadership roles across a wide range of cross-disciplinary NSF, DOE, NIH and Moore Foundation projects. She is a co-initiator of and an active contributor to the open-source Kepler Scientific Workflow System, and the co-author of publications related to eScience at the intersection of scientific workflows, provenance, distributed computing, bioinformatics, observatory systems, conceptual data querying, and software modeling. http://swat.sdsc.edu/ilkay/

Nancy J. Jones, CMA, MBA

AIS Faculty

Nancy has industry experience as a Systems Administrator, Corporate Controller, and Business Consultant. She left “corporate America” to teach full time in Accounting and Information Systems for California State University-Chico in 2005 and in 2013 transferred her skills to San Diego State University where she currently teaches several graduate level courses in accounting information systems. Known for innovative teaching and curricula development, Nancy is heavily involved in the SAP University Alliances, particularly in the area of data analytics and business intelligence. In 2016 she won the Majdi Najm Outstanding Service Award from the SAP North American University Alliances. In AY 2016/17 she was awarded the Fowler College of Business Teaching Excellence Award. She is extremely sought-after for analytics and accounting information systems presentations, training and workshops. A self-proclaimed accounting analytics evangelist, Nancy believes that all accountants and finance people need to learn to understand the data better. Nancy’s co-authored textbook, Practical Analytics, was published by Epistemy Press in February 2016, available at http://store.epistemypress.com/books/analytics.html

Caroline A. Thompson, PhD, MPH (Graduate School of Public Health, SDSU)

Assistant Professor

Dr. Caroline Thompson is Assistant Professor of Public Health at San Diego State University. Dr. Thompson is an epidemiologist, focusing primarily on cancer. She studies, at the population level, who gets cancer, and how to diagnose and treat cancer. To carry out her research, Dr. Thompson primarily uses “real world” health data such as the national death certificates, statewide cancer registries, and electronic health records (EHRs) from large hospitals. Using these kinds of data can be very tricky, and she also enjoys creating new methods to fix issues with missing or invalid data. https://publichealth.sdsu.edu/people/caroline-thompson/

Melody Schiaffino, PhD, MPH (Graduate School of Public Health, SDSU)

Assistant Professor

​Dr. Schiaffino is a bilingual, bi-cultural Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Public Health in the College of Health and Human Services at San Diego State University, a Core Investigator in the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health (IBACH) at SDSU, and an Associate Member of Moores Cancer Center at UCSD. As a systems science researcher her work centers on context and interaction. Context relates to the population context of where care occurs. She also studies the interaction of end-users with staff and providers as well as the technology that is provided as part of coordinated care. She ​is currently using big data to look at patient-provider interactions to study colorectal cancer outcome disparities using this approach [Novel Statistical Approaches for Visualizing and Analyzing Big Data for Improvign Cancer Outcomes]. https://publichealth.sdsu.edu/people/melody-schiaffino/

Eric R. Buhi, PhD, MPH (Graduate School of Public Health, SDSU)

Associate Professor

Dr. Buhi joined the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science in Fall 2014 as an Associate Professor. His research focus is to 1) understand and promote sexual health among young people and 2) employ innovative technologies for health promotion and behavior change (called Digital Health). Dr. Buhi is Associate Director for the Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA), Co-Director for the Center for Research on Sexuality and Sexual Health (SASH), and Core Investigator at the Institute for Behavioral & Community Health (IBACH). Dr. Buhi is leading a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to test the effectiveness of a new blended learning healthy relationships program, About Us, designed to reduce unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among vulnerable youth, delivered through school-based health centers in California. Before coming to SDSU, he spent eight years on the faculty at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, where he was awarded more than $4.15 million in grants. https://publichealth.sdsu.edu/people/eric-buhi/

Xavier Leonard (Open San Diego)

Xavier Leonard is a designer, researcher and advocate of technologies that make communities more resilient. A graduate of Columbia University, he has been the Public Technology and Data Strategist for the City of San Diego’s Civic Innovation Lab, Media and Communications Specialist with the Center on Policy Initiatives and was the founding director of Heads on Fire and the Heads on Fire Fab Lab. That program was selected as a national model in the United States for teaching technology in out-of-school settings. A proponent and producer of Open Source software and hardware projects, Leonard is the Captain of Open San Diego, a Code for America Brigade and a Health Data Ambassador for the State of California.


Amy Schmitz Weiss Associate Professor,
Journalism, SDSU

Roger Whitney Professor,
Computer Science, SDSU

Atsushi Nara Assistant Professor,

Adam Hammond Assistant Professor,
Digital Humanities, SDSU

Sara Gombatto Assistant Professor,
Smart Health Institute, SDSU

Leslie Ray Senior Epidemiologist,
County of San Diego
Health and Human Services Agency

Judge Criteria

  • Quality of the idea
  • Innovativeness / Creativity of the idea
  • Readiness of the idea to go to market
  • Impact of idea on public health field
  • The demonstration of teamwork/collaboration
  • The development and design of the idea (can include code but not required)


Please click on each logo to see more details about our sponsors!



SDSU Coordinators

  • Amy Schmitz Weiss (lead): Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies, SDSU
  • Ming-Hsiang (Ming) Tsou: Professor in Geography and Director of Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age
  • Atsushi Nara: Assistant Professor in Geography and the Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age, SDSU
  • Adam Hammond: Assistant Professor in English & Comparative Literature and Digital Humanities, SDSU


Additional SDSU Faculty Collaborators