GE hosts Middle East’s first digital industrial hackathon


CONTINUING its commitment to the training and development of the next generation of digital industrial leaders, GE [NYSE: GE] hosted a group of more than 60 Saudi entrepreneurs and developers in the region’s first digital industrial hackathon.

For 30 hours at the GE Saudi Technology & Innovation Center, located in Dhahran Techno Valley, 16 teams explored and coded on Predix, GE’s platform for the Industrial Internet of Things. The platform has the capabilities to connect machines, data and people to power the digital industrial companies of the future. It’s the foundation that enables industrial businesses to securely collect and analyze data in real time so that they can operate faster, smarter and more efficiently.

During the hackathon, teams were challenged to use the Predix platform to create a digital solution focused on Saudi Arabia’s critical healthcare industry. They were provided real, anonymized data about doses of radiation that certain machines such as CT scanners expose patients to at different hospitals around the country. The developers were then challenged to create a digital application on Predix, to compare the levels of radiation between facilities. This type of analysis would highlight where patients were receiving higher or lower than usual levels radiation, and where further training for technicians might be warranted.

Throughout the hackathon event, GE, digital partner Tata Consulting Services, and Saudi-founded innovation organization Hobby District, led the teams through workouts, ideation, training, and strategizing. On Saturday, expert judges arrived at the Center to watch the teams present their solutions and determine a winner. They included Dr. Aiman El-Maleh, Professor, Computer Engineering, KFUPM; Dr. Amal Fatani, head of the TCS-GE joint All Women Center in Riyadh; Hani Chohan, Chief Marketing Officer, Middle East, Africa & Turkey for GE Digital; and Hatem ElMohandes, Director – Solutions Architecture, GE Digital Middle East & North Africa.

Ali Saleh, Senior Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, GE Digital Middle East, Africa & Turkey, said: “We are proud of the talented young developers and entrepreneurs who came forward for this real-world challenge in the healthcare industry. Using digital solutions and GE’s Predix platform, these brilliant teams were able to work on solutions that truly matter to the Kingdom. This event encapsulates what GE Digital is all about – lean problem solving, an agile software platform, and solutions that impact the community at scale. As always, we are committed to knowledge transfer to contribute positively to the innovation ecosystems of which we are a part.”

Hisham Al Bahkali, President & CEO, GE Saudi Arabia & Bahrain, added: “It is fitting that the first Predix hackathon in the Middle East took place in Saudi Arabia. We have a robust pool of young, digitally-minded talent who are taking the Kingdom into the digital era. They are university graduates, undergrads, entrepreneurs, and professionals who all share a drive to work in the digital space, on challenges that matter for their country.”

The winning team was Data Scroungers, a group of four juniors from KFUPM. They were awarded an SAR 18,750 cash prize, after being judged on originality; understanding of the Predix platform; the growth potential; and the quality of the user experience. Their solution innovatively combined a map of the Kingdom with bar graphs to easily showcase the data. The team also succeeded in deploying their app on the Predix platform, and had ideas for how to expand the solution in the future.

The event follows recent announcements of GE’s Digital solution being deployed across a number of industries in the Kingdom. In May, GE announced a partnership with Obeikan Investment Group to transform its manufacturing facilities into smart factories, increasing productivity and efficiency across their network. Additionally, GE Digital, under the patronage of the Saudi Ministry of Health, is working to support the digitization of healthcare in the Kingdom through various digital solutions that will touch primary care facilities and hospitals.

Through working with a wide ecosystem of developers, industry experts, customers, and partners, GE is leading the way forward into the digital industrial era. And with a presence of more than 80 years, three offices and seven facilities, Saudi Arabia accounts for the largest GE workforce in the Middle East, with over 2,000 employees driving the Aviation, Healthcare, Oil & Gas, Power and Digital businesses. — SG