Nova Scotia

Wind farm hot spot finder wins Nova Scotia open data contest

Province teamed up with Dalhousie University for pitches from post-secondary students on how to use government data effectively.

Province sought pitches from post-secondary students on how to use government data

Winning pitch identified 22 areas in northern Nova Scotia where the province could put a wind farm. (David Zalubowski/ Associated Press)

A masters student in computing and analytics at Saint Mary's University said he was surprised his group's pitch won top prize of $3,000 in the province's open data contest.

The contest encourages groups to use one or more of Nova Scotia's hundreds of publicly available datasets to create apps.

Sunil Udhayakumar's group, along with 15 others, only had two minutes to make their case to the judges this weekend.

"I was really surprised because we explained them really well outside. And through the way explaining, I forgot what I was saying," Udhayakumar said.

The prize for the winning pitch is $3,000 and Sunil Udhayakumar (far left) said he hopes to invest some of that money into a future project.

The project involved using data from Nova Scotia Crown land along with considering the population distribution of the province. The group identified 22 areas where new wind farms could go.

"If we had enough time and more data we can do it for the whole of Nova Scotia and the potential is huge," Udhayakumar said.

Students were to focus on one of three areas: promoting tourism, assisting new immigrants and effective management of Nova Scotia's natural resources.

"The province produces a lot of data, they're increasingly allowing access to this data and they want individuals to re-purpose it for analysis purposes, to make apps," said Ryan Whalen, an assistant professor with the School of Information Management.

Whalen said he was impressed with what the students came up with for contest.

The province along with Dalhousie's School of Information Management  and the Rowe School of Business collaborated on the project, but students from any post-secondary school could participate.

'Quite impressive'

"There was some quite advanced statistical analyses running behind some of the apps which was quite impressive," he said.

The second place prize worth $2,000 went to a group that created an app which analyzed campgrounds across the province.

There was a tie for third place, but each entry each got to take home a $1,000 prize. One of the pitches that won third was for a Nova Scotia lake quality prediction model. The other was an app that helps new immigrants find places to live that are close to the services they need,

'We worked really hard'

"We worked really hard and we ran into a lot of snags with translating the data and so we weren't sure if we would be one of the top placed teams or not but we felt really good about it in the end," said Jay Harris, whose group came up with the immigration app.

Harris's group was composed of all Dalhousie students, with two in the computer science program and the others studying electronic commerce.

The final award, a people's choice award, was given to a group that pitched using Twitter to gather feedback from tourists visiting the province.


Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.