NYC Students Use IBM Watson for Apps Improving Society

January 16, 2015

6:30 pm

By now, I think we’re all familiar with IBM Watson. First made famous through its appearance on Jeopardy, during which the supercomputer competed against humans, the cognitive technology has become an arguably necessary tool for the future. Yesterday, the City University of New York (CUNY) and IBM announced the student winners of the CUNY-IBM Watson Case Competition, a competition aimed at discovering ways to IBM Watson’s cognitive tech can be utilized to solve various urban and education issues.

“This competition unleashes the talent of some of our city’s best and brightest,” said Stanley S. Litow, IBM Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation, in a statement. “By exploring ways to improve the lives of New Yorkers using next generation technology, today’s students will be encouraged and inspired to become tomorrow’s innovators.”

Watson is capable of analyzing massive amounts of data, interacting verbally with humans and understanding complicated questions in natural language, and proposing evidence-based information in order to improve decision-making. Because of such capabilities, students are provided the opportunity to explore the ways through which Watson can be utilized to solve very real problems in the world. Through the CUNY-IBM Watson Case Competition, students were tasked to create Watson-based apps that could help improve NYC’s government services and education.

The top three winners from the competition received a portion of the $10,000 prize donated by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation: $5,000 for first place, $3,000 for second, and $2,ooo for third. All of the student in the competition also has an opportunity to sign up for summer 2015 internship at IBM; join CUNY Entrepreneurship Boot Camp; work in CUNY’s Center for Student Entrepreneurship Incubator; and have access to the entrepreneurship network.

The winners of the  CUNY-IBM Watson Case Competition are:

1st Place: LMSW

Watson LMSW, a virtual case worker assistant, would aim to reduce the bureaucratic burden facing the City’s social workers. The app would provide detailed reports and help analyze patterns of abuse, saving child welfare workers valuable time and allowing them to better serve the City’s children and families.

Team Members: Lizeth Mejia, Nekita Singh, Kimberly Sy

2nd Place: SmartCall

SmartCall could serve as a virtual agent to help create a more organized and efficient 311 system, saving the City money and resources. By being the first line of defense in addressing callers’ concerns and providing operators with info on complex cases, SmartCall can harness the City’s data to predict and resolve complaints.

Team Members: Saad Abbasi, Qasim Ashraf, Hassan Naeem, Owais Naeem

3rd Place: Advyzr

A mobile app that would advise undergraduates and college counselors on ideal courses and schedules based on learning preferences, graduation requirements, majors, and career goals. It would seamlessly integrate academic targets and user preferences.

Team Members: Marcus CooperBrian Gonzalez, Michael Gusman, Gabriel Maldonado

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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