BrightHack at campus in Heerlen

october 25, 2018

Featuring challenges from the police and the Province of Limburg

The BrightHack event will be held from November 30 through December 2. The initiators of this hackathon are the national Chamber of Commerce and Brightlands Smart Services Campus. The focus is on four areas: international trade, health, crime and education. We spoke to Danny Timmermans (police) and Marlou Jenneskens (Province of Limburg) about their challenges and what they expect from this auspicious event.  

BrightHack at a glance

At the Brightlands Smart Services Campus, more than 250 people will spend 48 hours concentrating on meeting four challenges. The organizers will provide indoor camping facilities, food and drinks, chill rooms and fringe events. Based on real datasets provided by the police, Accenture, DUO, CITO and the CBS, the participants will work on creative solutions. They will be competing to win prizes in the form of a concrete assignment, but also festival tickets and city trips. The jury will be judging the final presentations based on execution, performance, design quality and creativity.

Four challenges

Participants will be able to choose from four challenges submitted by the Chamber of Commerce (KvK), Zuyderland hospital group, the police and the Province of Limburg. The KvK will challenge the teams to find ways to break down barriers to international trade using data and technology. These barriers might consist of differences in taxes, regulations, culture and means of payment. Zuyderland will be placing the focus on hospitality in the care sector. The care organization would like to find out how new technologies can be used to make a patient’s visit to or stay in the hospital easier and more pleasant. The other two challenges will be explained in further detail below by the track owners.

Working on a future-proof police force

This past spring, the police set up an iLab at the Brightlands Smart Services Campus. Senior intelligence analyst and track owner Danny Timmermans (photo) explains. “We have traditionally always been a fairly closed organization, but have become more open in recent years. We have realized that we can’t do it all alone. The strength of Brightlands is that it is a community based on collaboration. As the police, we also play a role in this, and our participation in BrightHack is an excellent example. 

Police as start-up
Timmermans intentionally created the challenge as a broad-based one. “We didn’t make one specific problem the central theme, but would rather be surprised by participants who can think outside of the box. After all, we’re actually also a start-up ourselves. Big data and the web are relatively new for us. How can we benefit from these developments the right way, within the constraints of legislation, regulations and ethics? By having the participants experiment with this subject, we believe we’ll get creative outcomes that we wouldn’t have immediately thought of ourselves. A fresh approach is very healthy, and a hackathon is a great tool for arriving at this. Ultimately, we are hoping for a concept that will inspire us to take an innovative approach to doing our jobs, or perhaps even one that results in a start-up.”

Key to success
“The key to success for a winning team is a good mix of skills,” Timmermans says. “Make sure that your team doesn’t only consist of developers, but also people who are capable of drafting a business model, earnings model or marketing plan. It is also important to start interviewing your track coach as soon as possible. This will give you insight into the problem and the world in which the relevant organization operates. Don’t just stay in contact with your own coach, but be sure to also bounce your idea off of coaches in other tracks. This can lead to new insights.” 

A unique opportunity
In spite of the fact that he doesn’t expect to get enough sleep, Timmermans is really looking forward to the event. “We’ll just fend off exhaustion with coffee and Red Bull. Working together is fantastic, and is a perfect fit for the community that is Brightlands. This hackathon is a unique opportunity for both start-ups and students to get a look at the campus and make contacts. After all, there are always people here looking for talent. You have to admit, how often do you get the chance to work with the police to elaborate on a concept? It’s not an everyday opportunity, and one that you really must seize.”

Talent development through personalized education

The Province of Limburg is investigating the digital society. Where are we now? What are the consequences of digitalization? And what does this mean for Limburg? Education is one of the sectors on which digitalization has a huge impact. “We know that it’s changing, and fast. But how? This is what we don’t know yet. And this is one of the things we’re hoping to discover in our research,” says Marlou Jenneskens, track owner for education at this hackathon, representing the province. “We are trying to respond to these changes now by supporting innovation in education and by offering programming and coding at primary schools, for example. BrightHack is a way for us to take a very experimental approach to exploring the possibilities. Incidentally, we aren’t doing this alone, but are working with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Limburg Educational Agenda.”

IInclusion and equal opportunities
“The ‘Staat van het Onderwijs (State of Education)’ report, an annual study conducted by the Dutch school inspectorate, has shown that children from a disadvantaged socio-economic environment are often encouraged to pursue a lower level of secondary education than other children, based on their CITO (placement exam) scores,” Jenneskens continues. “Children are in classes with 30 other students. Every child has their own background and learning needs, but the teachers are too busy. How can we adapt lessons so that every child can reach their maximum potential? How can the teachers better monitor the children’s needs and weaknesses? These are questions the participants will be studying in our challenge.”

Campus as breeding ground
For Jenneskens, there is no place better than Brightlands Smart Services Campus for this hackathon. “This campus is the ultimate place in Limburg to hold events like this. They have the network and the knowledge to bring together everything they need for a hackathon. The campus is also a true breeding ground which may be used to take the ideas and concepts brought to life during BrightHack even further.”

Usual and unusual suspects
Jenneskens is curious about what she’ll get out of her first hackathon. “It’s so exciting, and I’m curious what one of these weekends is like. I hope that we’ll see a lot of concrete ideas and results emerge, particularly with a pressure-cooker method like this one. I’m also curious if we’ll be surprised by connections we hadn’t made yet, and whether or not ideas or tools arise from the event which teachers in Limburg can start applying. Education is a topic everyone has an opinion about. BrightHack is a great way to approach it from a completely different angle, to encourage the ‘unusual suspects’ to join the efforts for a change, to experiment and truly come up with new ideas. I hope that teachers and others from education will also participate; this is what it’s all about after all.” 

  overview news & events

Kick-off BrightHack

The BrightHack kick-off was held in Eindhoven on October 30 with an Inspirational Event. During this evening event, the challenges were explained and workshops were held. There was also an opportunity to network.

Inspirational event

Kids' event

On the day BrightHack starts, kids from 11 to 15 will be the first to have their turn. During a kids’ hackathon, they will work on developing innovative ideas, and will receive an introduction to the Brightlands Roadshow. Not only will teachers attend this event, but also parents, school leadership and principals, and administrators.

Brightlands Roadshow

Interested in participating?

Would you like to take part in the hackathon and contribute to one of the challenges? You can register via this link: Not on a team yet? You can also find announcements on the website from teams still looking for members.