B-Code: Brunei’s 1st National ICT Hackathon – Launch and Info session

So, B{CODE} – Brunei’s 1st National ICT Hackathon kicked off on Tuesday with essentially an info session with the subject matter experts, SMEs (yeah I know that is a pretty bad acronym when the news uses it in the context of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) of the 9 projects that was available


I went to it with an open mind and tried to make the most of it but felt that some titles and descriptions pitched on the website was at odds with what was said during the session. I’ll detail each project with the synopsis/description provided on the website and what I gathered from the panel session

Brunei Communication Hub – Empowering communication between public and government agencies

Website synopsis: The government has provided several different platforms by which the public can communicate with various agencies. For example, the E-Darussalam Portal presents users with a forum for individuals to express their opinions and concerns. Several government agencies are also actively making use of social media to interact with the public. To further improve communication, the government needs to increase the visibility, responsiveness, and cohesiveness of the different mediums so as to better interact with the general public.

From the panel session:

communication hub.jpg

  • They mentioned about using customer satisfaction survey as a standard for measures like KPIs
  • Had trouble with past survey participation despite “aggressive” push
  • They would like real time reports from the surveys
  • Ideally to cover all government agencies
  • Mentioned distrust in usage of social media due to possible bias
    • Need more official communication platform
    • After Q&A they seemed open to using social media but they didn’t want 3rd parties like Facebook to read the data
  • Key take aways:
    • Mainly wanting to use it for taking surveys and needing an official platform that 3rd parties don’t have access to the data
    • Discussion felt at odds with the synopsis which mentioned the use of social media but hesitation to use it as mentioned in the panel?

Interactive / Dynamic Open Data Platform

Website Synopsis: Data.gov.bn portal site was developed and launched in 2014 to promote Open Data. The portal was developed with the intention to facilitate and help the public, business entrepreneurs and researchers to obtain data that are general data that are collected by government agencies, through the portal. To improve the effectiveness and accessiblity of the website, the portal needs to be further developed to enable automation (API access), as well as incorporating dynamic and interactive interfaces to aid in better understanding and interpretation of data by the general public.

From the panel session:

  • Looking for tools on top of the current portal to bring some interactivity to the data
  • And possibly even tools for making data more machine readable

Intelligent emergency response

Website synopsis: The government has provided four (4) separate hotline to receive the emergency calls from the public; ambulance (991), police (993), fire & rescue (995), as well as search & rescue (998). With the availability of the latest technology, the delivery of this emergency information can be further improved so as to allow the proper emergency authority to provide quick & accurate response and reach the emergency location faster.

From the panel session:

  • Currently every authority (police/ambulance/fire/search & rescue) have their own control centre
  • Wants as easy way for end user to get in touch with the correct authority (e.g. an app with icons for each one). And also an easy way to share location
  • Possibly even have emergency contacts with family instead of call centres if lesser emergency
  • Possible modes of communication: call / email / text
  • Possible extension to use for dispatching to other non emergency agencies with extra features like ability to take photo with  locations so can complaint or sent to appropriate agency

Crowdfunding on community and charity – Social empowerment through public funding

Website synopsis: Through the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the government has recently successfully implemented the Mosque Fund, and may soon see development of its first mosque from the fund. It would be beneficial to explore the expansion of such activities primarily to support the development of social communities and potentially fund national scale projects that benefit the country as a whole. Challenges in this domain include having solution that have the necessary transparency and accountability built in, while enabling funds from various different mediums.

From the panel session:

  • Wasn’t too clear what the existing problems were and what an ideal solution would be
  • Mentioned of wanting an integrated system to be able to select which funds to donate to
  • Moderator shared examples of related online sites like: GoFundMe / Kickstarter

Brunei Fitness – Tackling the obesity by engaging the community and encouraging the healthy lifestyle

Website synopsis: The scale of the obesity epidemic in Brunei Darussalam is staggering. Recent surveys indicate that 33.5% of the adult population in Brunei are overweight and 27.1% are obese. The implications of this for the development of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke are highly significant and the social and economic consequences are potentially devastating. Without a change, Brunei Darussalam will fail to meet its Wawasan 2035 goal of becoming a top 10 nation for quality of life.

Evidence suggests that to combat the obesity epidemic we need to engage individuals and the wider community to take responsibility for their own health. Individual behaviour has to change such that eating healthily, with moderate portion sizes, and doing 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week to maintain health becomes the social norm. Unfortunately, it is not enough just to raise awareness and educate individuals. We have to move beyond “awareness raising”. Our behaviour is strongly influenced by our environment and the culture around us. In Brunei there is a ready availability and affordability of high calories, nutrient poor foods, alongside a mindset that views over-eating as normal. The task therefore is, how we engage the community, and create a social movement towards healthy living? How do we make healthy lifestyles the new normal and push the message that ‘Health is Everyone’s Business’?

From the panel session:


  • Wants a “very very local” kind of app that “has to be as unique as our Bruneians” that caters to help people lose weight especially the obese and overweight
  • Mentioned a good example app was “FitnessPal” (perhaps referring to https://www.myfitnesspal.com/)
  • Mention of calories counts of things like ambuyat

Talent Search Centre

Website synopsis: In recent years, a number of talented locals have turned to social media  to attract customers and showcase their talents. In order to ensure that this talent can be marketed and has greater visibility, a platform for a talent management and matching may prove beneficial.

From the panel session:

talent search.jpg

  • They mentioned that they have issues with the current JobCentre site (didn’t give exact details but that they are some)
  • Would like to have resources related to job finding such as personality tests, best practises on how to apply for jobs and job readiness assessments
  • Mentioned https://www.jobsbank.gov.sg/ & https://www.onetonline.org/ as good examples
  • During Q&A was asked about how would we patch into the current system and if we would have access to the data. No data access would be given but structure would be possible but no direct access to current system which essentially makes it requiring a complete overhaul of an existing system
  • Take aways
    • Felt this was pretty confusing to me especially with the synopsis. I interpreted “talent” as coming from the creative industry of things like graphic design / arts / performances / e.t.c. but seemed like asking for a new JobCentre site

Public Transportation

Website synopsis: Efficient public transportation can form a crucial part of the solution to the nation’s economic, energy, and environmental challenges – helping to bring a better quality of life to those who rely on it. The government is continuously committed to improving its public transportation. Challenges here include improved access to service times for public transportation and routes, and information about delays and official information.

From the panel session:

public transport.jpg

  • Mentioned about having access to data like
    • location of stops because sometimes it may not be where you think it is
    • real time data to know when the next mode of transportation is coming
    • fare estimators
  • To watch out for complaints for things like unfair prices

Local Tourism – Kenali Negara Kitani

Website synopsis: Statistics of tourists visit to Brunei Darussalam has increased from year to year. Last year alone, a total of 218,000 tourists visited Brunei Darussalam which was an increase of 8.57% compared to the previous year. With the increase in this statistic, it can also help Brunei in boosting the national economy. Challenges here is how to ensure that the tourists feel comfortable and safe, while increasing their enjoyment and ease in the country.

From the panel session:

local tourism.jpg

  • Wanting to make data available to both foreign and local tourists
  • Having listing such as like historical tours / heritage trails / tour packages
  • Being able to cater for foreign delegations like visitors from China

Property Guide

Website synopsis: The real estate market in Brunei Darussalam continues to grow with several types of housing, property and shops being developed in different locations. To further increase and attract more investors (both local and foreign) a tool that enables them to analyse the market trends based on the data may serve to better decision making and development in areas of demand.

From the panel session:

property guide.jpg

  • Mention of knowing of things like prices of houses in different locations, gathering market trends and knowing things like who’s responsible for grass cutting


Truth be told I got pretty weary after the first 2 sessions (i.e. first 6 themes mentioned above) and these were my key take aways in the overall day

  • They faced the typical issue with events in Brunei: running it during work hours. Not everybody would be able to attend due to work commitments and not everybody would have the luxury of taking time off
  • They missed the opportunity for the subject matter experts to be available to the participants. Preliminary schedule mentioned that there would be a session in the morning where they would have booths for participants to ask them questions before the afternoon panel discussion. But this was not the case: there was no subject matter experts from each project available in the morning.
  • Theme description on website and what was discussed during the panel session can be different. Not the case for all but from what was emphasized during the discussion, it seemed to diverge from the theme synopsis.
    Felt that the “Communication Hub” and “Talent Search” projects were the main ones for me here: “Communication Hub” synopsis mentioned of the government utilising social media, but panelist mentioned not wanting to use social media. As mentioned previously the “Talent Search” synopsis made me think along the lines of the creative arts industry.
    As I believe there were some people who couldn’t make the event, feels that they are “flying blind” not having access the possible more relevant things discussed in the panel session.
  • Some of these have ready made solutions out there (particularly the “Property Guide” and “Talent Search”). Thus it feels that having them as a theme without focus particular unique situations as to why current solutions don’t work, will just be like reinventing the wheel (while a good learning process for people, it wouldn’t really bring anything unique to the table).
  • Some solutions don’t really need a full app like solution and having just an updated website or central source of information is sufficient.
  • Some solutions feel that they should just be government tenders as opposed to hackathon projects
  • Perhaps I missed it but not all panelist had a summary slide (the ones that I took a picture of and showed above in each section)
  • Some panelist kept things vague as to what problems they were facing and while I understand that they would want to keep things open in terms of flexibility and creativity, but I feel for a better success rate in terms of a project, it would best to highlight key issues they are having with their current systems. While being creative is great, if it doesn’t solve core issues, I don’t think it would be as effective
  • No Q&A with the organisers directly and no direct means of communication with the subject matters experts post event (will probably have to email in the organisers to get these details)

Feels that I’m rambling on a bit on this but I do hope for the best of this hackathon and that the projects do see actual real world use. Just from my feeling of the day itself, it felt a bit confusing and I needed to decompress the info out a bit. I fully commend the organisers in getting this out the door and all the best to the contestants!