NCBJ researchers in a programming contest organized by Ministry of Digital Affairs

Adam Zadrożny, nn, Paweł Posielężny, Arkadiusz Ćwiek, Marianna Zadrożna and Weronika Boruc chat with Minister Anna Streżyńska, second from the left (photo Anna Boruc)

17 teams participated in Hackathon, a programing contest organized for the first time by Ministry of Digital Affairs on premises of National Library in Warsaw. 90 contest runners included 2 astrophysicist from NCBJ: Adam Zadrożny and Arkadiusz Ćwiek. Contest runners’ task was to develop software applications designed to facilitate everyday life of ordinary people by making use of data openly published by various institutions in the Internet.

The two-day long Hackathon event has drawn on the tradition of programming marathons initiated in the Silicon Valley. Participants of such marathons were supposed to develop (in a relatively short time) software products with quite new functionalities. A preliminary version of Facebook chat and a video link to Messenger were for example developed that way. That method of selecting interdisciplinary teams capable to effectively find solutions for complex problems has been verified in numerous large IT companies. Now also Polish Ministry of Digital Affairs decided to employ the method. The best projects selected in the contest will be evaluated by experts and implemented by the Ministry in 2017.

The Hackathon jury awarded three major prizes:

  • 1st prize (18,000 PLN and a paid internship in Centre for Informatics Technology in Warszawa) went to the “Fringers” team for an application developed to facilitate settling of cases in offices.

  • 2nd prize (13,000 PLN) went to the “Zielone Diabły” team for an application developed to look up less expensive alternative drugs reimbursed under mandatory healthcare insurance.

  • 3rd prize (9,500 PLN) went to the “Media 3.0 SAP” team for developing a video game based on some data taken from the Wroclaw city municipal budget.

2 researchers from NCBJ were members of the “” team comprising 4 software developers and 2 humanists. They have been awarded with a special prize (10,000 PLN funded by the Polish Security Printing Works company) for an application capable to discover prohibited clauses in contracts and regulations. Database of such clauses is maintained by Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKIK). For each suspected clause a link to the SAOS (Court Ruling Analysis System) database helps to locate justification why the clause is prohibited. Publicly accessible data include an uniform list of about 6,000 such records; however, so far no connection to other public domain databases was available. The project is targeted at private consumers and SME enterprises, who usually can’t afford legal counsellors. Enterprise entering prohibited clauses into contracts with their Customers may be punished by UOKIK up to 10% of their annual turnover. Unfortunately such clauses are still encountered in contracts with property developers, internal regulations of online shops etc.; for example they have been identified in nearly 70% of contracts reached in Poland in 2014 with property developers. The clauses often create a huge imbalance between interests of both contracting parties.

The idea behind the “” application was surprisingly born when Adam Zadrożny used in his research conducted in NCBJ Astrophysics Division a software of length counted in hundreds of thousands of code lines, which contained some undocumented code lines. As the software was producing undesirable results, he was forced to browse all those lines to look up some specific texts and remove the fragments in question. Know-how acquired during accomplishing that task greatly helped to develop an application capable to analyse various texts, including legal texts written using some natural but codified language.

The “” application was developed by a team comprising Adam Zadrożny (NCBJ), Arkadiusz Ćwiek (NCBJ), Marcin Wojno (University of Warsaw Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics), Paweł Posieleżny (University of Warsaw Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics), Marianna Zadrożna (graduate of Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and student of University of Warsaw Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling), Weronika Boruc (PhD student in Polish Academy of Sciences Institute of Philosophy and Sociology).

Production of banknotes and documents is a generally known mission of Polish Security Printing Works, sponsor of the prize. However, the company offers also some modern solutions related to IT security. The solutions marketed under the PWPW Technologia IT brand name may be applied to improve remote identification/authentication procedures.

Council of war before the contest (photo Kuba Mozolewski. Ministry of Digital Affairs)
Adam Zadrożny, nn, Paweł Posielężny, Arkadiusz Ćwiek, Marianna Zadrożna and Weronika Boruc chat with Minister Anna Streżyńska, second from the left (photo Anna Boruc)
Special prize winners (photo Kuba Mozolewski, Ministry of Digital Affairs)