Codeathon participants track the bad guys with team work, motivation
By Karamjit Singh November 21, 2017
- Well run event, fantastic location, knowledgeable mentors leaves lasting impression
- Bank Negara openess to collaborate with different stakeholders lauded
SOME came better prepared than others, simply by virtue of being from the same company, thereby ensuring better chemistry and teamwork in working together to solve the challenges presented by the codeathon they had come to participate in.
The just concluded codeathon on Nov 18 & 19, was held in conjunction with the 3rd Counter-Terrorism Financing Summit 2017 currently being held in Kuala Lumpur, hosted by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in partnership with Austrac and Indonesia’s Pusat Pelaporan dan Analisis Transaksi Keuangan (PPATK).
Others, as Elliot Shepherd from Sydney, came on their own, not knowing anyone but drawn by interest in the unique aspect of the codeathon where the idea is to find the bad guys who are sponsoring terrorism.
And as Shepherd’s experience in the codeathon, his first, has shown, being a rookie at such gatherings of like-minded souls is no drawback, as he walked away with the top individual award of “Spirit of CTF Codeathon” from out of 69 participants from 11 countries.
“It was a well run event, the Bank Negara location was fantastic and the mentors knew their stuff,” says Shepherd who is the chief technology officer of a startup, Identitii Pte Ltd in Sydney.
As it was, Shepherd, was not the only rookie around. No one in his team had done a hackhaton before or knew each other. “I think it worked in our favour, as we came up with something a bit different from the others.”
He advices hackhaton participants to be flexible, as once the event starts, “you don't know where your solution will take you.”
It’s also important for participants to pick something they can achieve by the end of the codeathon. “It seems obvious, but it’s easy to add too many features and create a lot of work when brainstorming,” he says. In the end, Shephard’s team also emerged winners in the challenge they worked to solve, “Who are you?” which was about identifying those engaging in terrorist funding, money laundering, drugs or other criminal activities with crypto currencies or other pseudonymous channels.
This was one of three challenges participants were invited to solve. The others being:
- Where is the money?
How would you monitor the changing world of value exchange internationally, taking into account emerging technologies and the shift from money to value in myriad forms?
- Help your community!
How would you identify tangible impending risks to the community to intercept harm pre-emptively, especially relating to money laundering/terrorism-financing (ML/TF)?
On the other end of the hackhathon spectrum is Heislyc Loh, a well know community builder in Malaysia and organizer of the largest hackhaton in the country, Angel Hack, who also participated.
“This is a unique experience because we left the hackathon learning the severity of terrorism financing and ways to defend our nation against it.”
Loh also liked the fact that the central bank was behind the event. “It’s refreshing to know BNM as a leading regulator in the region is open minded to collaborate with different stakeholders including the community of developers and tech enthusiasts. I deeply believe innovation always starts from collaboration.”
Meanwhile, the overall winners, all colleagues at Blockchain Technology Malaysia Sdn Bhd, came from team Overwatch with its spokesperson, Harpreet Maan sharing some valuable lessons they learnt as a team.
“I think having a strong sense of team spirit and the motivation to solve challenges is the most valuable thing we have taken back from the codeathon. We also learnt the importance of preparing proper presentations and being result oriented. Once we decided what we wanted to go with, we put our full effort towards implementing it,” he says.
For Harpreet, overall it was a great experience and he is already looking forward to the next hackathon. Blockchain Technology Malaysia is a year old blockchain research and development startup focusing on blockchain services and developing blockchain related use cases.
For those interested, the next codeathon is not that far off. It will be hosted by Austrac (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) in Sydney from 14 – 15 March 2018 in the week prior to the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit and Counter-Terrorism Conference. Austrac is Australia’s financial intelligence agency. Registration is now open.