Space2Health: the hackathon

Pr3Health team

Pr3Health team

What better way to show your love of science than entering a hackathon? Organised by the Merck science and technology company, alongside ESA, the Space2Health hackathon recently attracted a set of talented individuals who crunched numbers in a 24-hour event to find the best solution to one of the set challenges.

One goal was to process data for monitoring the health of humans and satellites alike. Another sought ways of tracking the health of our planet’s three billion people who live in the remotest places and have no Internet access.

The participants stayed overnight at the Merck Innovation Center in Darmstadt, Germany, and coded and scratched throughout the day-long event.

A way of assisting paramedics with automatic live monitoring of patients in ambulances won first prize in the Health and Spacecraft Data Processing category. The required devices and the machine-learning software inspired by satellite data analysis are already available.

The Pr3Health team will continue to work on using their software with the existing infrastructure in ambulances.

First prize in the Connecting Remote People challenge went to TeleMEDry, who proposed distributing easy-to-use diagnostic units to trained people in remote areas. These multipurpose toolkits contain a wide range of sensors and instruments that can collect health data, process it and transfer the results via the nearest satellite.

Hackathons encourage people to work together to solve challenges using satellite data and apply the knowledge to benefit all.

"It is one of the initiatives that I love. It is multidisciplinary, challenging and potentially highly valuable for all of us," notes Redouane Boumghar, from ESA’s mission control in Darmstadt, Germany.

Merck’s Janik Weigel adds: "It was a great opportunity and format to foster cross-industry collaboration while simultaneously getting fresh, external insights on existing problems."