53 Students Use Data Science to Reduce Poverty and Income Inequality

Samasource Team

June 10, 2019

4 Minute Read

Can we create platforms to help those in need overcome their current situation?

This is the question 53 Computer Engineering students set out to answer during the Samasource Hackathon on May 31 - June 1, 2019.

The Hackathon was held at the Jose Figueres Ferrer Library, Costa Rica Institute of Technology, Main Campus - Cartago and encouraged students to look for ways to use data science to help reduce poverty and inequality.


PHOTO: Computer Engineering students at the Samasource Hackathon 

Costa Rica has multiple sources of data available for analysis, ranging from census data gathered by the National Institute of Statistics and Census, to the Ministry of Economics.

During the Hackathon, participants explored whether we can use those data sources to find ideas and promote initiatives to improve employment rates, development of skills, etc.

13 teams set out to look for historical trends on why regions are more/less developed based on market trends, and the three winning teams were awarded based on their ability to come up with public policy ideas based on that data. 

samasource_hackathon_costa_rica_first_placePHOTO: First place winners of the Samasource Hackathon

The Winning Team

The first place winners organized exports data from Costa Rica to the largest economies in the world and evaluated the potential for new small businesses to be created, depending on their region.

For instance, if Germany is importing a lot of flowers (in general) and the fraction coming from Costa Rica is small, then could we identify the regions where there is flower growing potential and promote policies to incentivize farmers to move from their current products to flowers.


PHOTO: Second place winners of the Samasource Hackathon

The Runner-Up

The second place winners combined multiple data sources; probably the most out of any group. They established multiple relationships and synthesized them into their own data sources.

This team used the most technology out of all the teams, attempting to implement several of the key tools and frameworks suggested, in order to find overarching patterns in data related to economic development from Costa Rican institutions.


PHOTO: Third place winners of the Samasource Hackathon

Third Place Winners

The team characterized small businesses in Costa Rica using factors from multiple databases, such as vertical, economic geo region, and others. In Costa Rica, about 50% of small businesses don't make it to year three. They analyzed if there were companies that were more or less likely to survive the three year anniversary, as a proxy for success. 

They tried to cluster those businesses in order to determine the characteristics of successful ones, in hopes of finding patterns for new entrepreneurs to follow.


Congratulations to the winning teams and many thanks to all who participated.

The Samasource Hackathon is just one of the many programs and initiatives Samasource facilitates. Among others is our scholarship program and GiveWork challenge. Learn more about our impact programs here

Samasource Team

From self-driving cars to smart hardware, Samasource fuels AI. Founded over a decade ago, we’re experts in image, video and sensor data annotation and validation for machine learning algorithms in industries including automotive, navigation, AR/VR, biotech, agriculture, manufacturing, and e-commerce. Our staff are driven by a mission to expand opportunity for low-income people through the digital economy, and our social business model has helped over 50,000 people lift themselves out of poverty.