Nanyang Girls' High the big winner in data challenge

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim and chief architect and head of Fujitsu Singapore's Internet of Things solution centre Cheng Jang Thye with the winning team in the secondary school category from Nanyang Girls' High School -
Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim and chief architect and head of Fujitsu Singapore's Internet of Things solution centre Cheng Jang Thye with the winning team in the secondary school category from Nanyang Girls' High School - (from left) Fan Xilin, Wen Qianyi, Qian Zichen, Yang Yue and Jiang Nuoyi - at the finale of the National Science Experiment Big Data Challenge yesterday.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

If you live near a highway and think traffic noise is affecting your nightly sleep, you should look inside your home for the main culprits.

This is what the team that yesterday won the secondary school category of the National Science Experiment (NSE) Big Data Challenge 2017 found.

Made up of five 17-year-old students from Nanyang Girls' High School, the team collected, filtered and analysed tens of thousands of data points to discover that noise from outside one's windows had almost no impact within the home.

Instead, the team found that the most noise came from within the home, and suspected electrical appliances like fans and air-conditioners to be sources.

To conduct this experiment, the girls used a sensor tool called SENSg, provided by the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). It can measure and store data on things like temperature, humidity, noise, motion and light.

The team beat five others in its category. Team leader Yang Yue, speaking at SUTD where the finale was held, said that this competition was the first time they had encountered big data. Big data refers to collections of data so huge that they require specialised technology to process and analyse them.

"It was really eye-opening to finally work with big data," she said. "Now we have to focus on our exams. But after that, we want to continue working with it."

The NSE Big Data Challenge, which will not run next year as the NSE has reached the end of its funding, sought to help participants understand big data and explore how it can be used to manage real-world issues. This year, students analysed data for a research topic on the theme of sustainable urban living.

For the finals, 11 teams were shortlisted from a total of 92, with more than 400 students from 45 schools participating.

Singapore Polytechnic won the junior college, polytechnic and the Institute of Technical Education category. The team used the SENSg devices to collect more than a million data points on location, speed and time to test if students stayed till late at night on campus because they lived far away, and to find out which mode of transportation caused them to rush the most to school in the mornings.

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, was the guest of honour.

The NSE Big Data Challenge was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF). NRF organised it in partnership with the Ministry of Education, SUTD, Science Centre Singapore, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, the Singapore Land Authority and OneMap Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'Nanyang Girls' High the big winner in data challenge'. Print Edition | Subscribe