Data scientists and USMART: a match made in heaven.
We soft-launched our brand-new product, USMART, at the DataLab & Product Forge hackathon! USMART is our next-generation open data platform.

December 6, 2016


Participants used the platform as an easy and intuitive way to access data they would play and work with throughout the competition.

What: DataLab MSc Challenge Competition, Stage 1
Where: SWG3 in Glasgow
When: 12th and 13th November 2016

Who’s Who of Data

Over 100 data scientists from across Scotland attended the DataLab MSc Challenge Competition Stage 1 Hackathon. They were all enrolled in MSc Data Science degrees.

UrbanTide’s software engineers, Jacek and Silvia were on hand to facilitate use of our USMART data platform and to witness USMART’s release into the wild. They were joined by mentors from DataLab and Product Forge.


USMART survived unscathed its first encounter with users outside of a safe beta testing environment. In fact, most users said they found the platform easy to interact with and said they could see themselves adopting the platform for long-term use.

More than 90% of users indicated that they would continue to use the USMART API. Happy days, since one of our aims is for USMART to be super simple to use!

Let’s Break it Down

Day 1


The hackathon kicked off with an ice-breaker session during which participants and mentors from DataLab and Product Forge, along with university staff and experienced data scientists, had the chance to get to know each other better. This was followed by team formation and introductions to the challenges and datasets.  

Data themes

These consisted of current issues in Scotland in areas such as health and social care, finance, transport and tourism, and the environment. To address issues within these areas, real datasets were used from:


Jacek providing a short intro to USMART


The teams set to work in full force picking their areas of concern, researching datasets and cracking on with their proposed solutions. Jacek and Silvia were on hand to help with the nitty-gritty - helping people get access to the data and use it.


Pizza! And drinks from the venue’s bar. After dinner, the USMART mentors turned into facilitators for a few gripping games of Werewolf and the first season of Silicon Valley.

Day 2


Obviously, the day began with breakfast and coffee. After that, the teams frantically prepared for their presentations. As the projects advanced, the focus moved away from obtaining data towards querying it through the API and processing the data downloaded. The participants had mostly got the hang of USMART, which gave our mentors time to do some hacking of their own.


Hacking pros, Silvia and Jacek


Each team presented their solutions. Their innovative approaches made it clear that they understood the importance of the real-world issues they were addressing. Although ambitious, the proposals were well-documented and built on strong bases of data insight.

We’re ready for Stage 2! Are you?

It was an exciting weekend for team UrbanTide. We’re proud to have seen USMART put to work by talented data scientists and to have been on hand to support them in tackling present-day issues with large-scale, real-world datasets.

Watching ambitious, driven individuals make use of their skills and intelligence by taking on some of Scotland’s current problems was an inspiring experience. We’re eager to see what the next stage of the competition will bring!


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