300 Data Analysts Compete in the U.S. Navy’s First Ever Connected Ship Hackathon
March 22, 2017 /3BL Media/ - At any given time, 80 percent of the world's tangible Gross Domestic Product is moving from manufacturer to market via ships. With new cybersecurity threats surfacing daily, the need for maritime cybersecurity is more pressing than ever. To protect and maintain global commerce at sea, the U.S. Navy invited top millennial data analysts to take on tough maritime cybersecurity use cases and challenges at its HACKtheMACHINE event held in Austin, TX last month.
The first-ever connected ship hackathon, hosted by the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Cyber Warfare, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, pioneered real discussion and solutions for how to protect global markets via predictable maritime navigation.
“I’m seeing a whole different side of the Navy than I’ve ever seen before,” said Dr. Todd Humphreys, Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at University of Texas, Austin. “They are tapping into talent that was once reserved for Silicon Valley and crowdsourcing for innovation to solve today’s toughest problems,” he added.
Over the course of 72-hours, 302 data analysts from startups, the tech industry, the U.S. Navy, and top academic institutions tried their hand at one of three challenges. Challenge number one focused on a maritime “capture the flag” game that allowed participants to test their hacking skills against TRUDI, Booz Allen’s connected boat in a box that was demoed at this year’s SXSW. The second challenge centered on a competition to design algorithms that provide maritime domain awareness, identify anomalous behavior and solve real world problems like human trafficking and piracy. While the third challenge was a design thinking sprint that targeted safer alternatives to GPS for maritime Precision Navigation and Timing.
“The format we developed was really aimed at one central question: how do we get America’s young, innovative, willing-to-take-risk entrepreneurs onto the United States Navy’s most difficult problems?” said Commander Zac Staples, Director of the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Cyber Warfare.
In addition, 550 virtual participants competed in Topcoder’s rapid user experience (RUX) challenge, Crowdsourcing the Future of Maritime Cybersecurity. RUX participants competed for the best clean and direct user interface to create maritime scenarios that generate automatic identification system data and highlight inaccuracies in the scenario over time.
At the end of the weekend, the U.S. Navy received 10 winning solutions that could potentially improve safety and efficiency of maritime cybersecurity, use data science to create safer oceans, and harness next generation design for PNT alternatives. The biggest win for the U.S. Navy was successfully engaging new industry and technical talent to U.S. Navy’s maritime cybersecurity use cases and challenges.
“There’s a huge workforce shortage right now and events like HACKtheMACHINE really get a community together and show people that there is a future in computer and information security,” said Dr. David Brumley, Director of CYLAB at Carnegie Melon University. Dr. Brumley recently led CMU’s DefCon team to win the ‘World Series of Hacking’ title for the third time in four years.
Check out the video highlights from the hackathon at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrMNnG0Zp0A&feature=youtu.be