BlockChain Hackathon - Only for the real nerds

20 September 2019

BlockChain Hackathon - Only for the real nerds

A dark room with black computer screens everywhere, as though I had ended up in the matrix. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, and the EventInsight Team are on their way to the old sugar union factory with their new product 'TapGuard' to participate in the biggest BlockChain hackathon in the world.

The sugar union, it's a gigantic factory of which only half is still standing and once you enter you get the spontaneous urge for candyfloss. However not today, instead I get a bit nervous. Every window is covered with a dark cloth, there is smoke, there are colored disco lamps, strobes, and all around me there are (predominantly) young men looking at green letters and numbers on black screens. What am I doing here?

The opening film is worthy of the festival. With intense music and groundbreaking one-liners, the participants are defined as the determinants of the future. "The future of our children is in your hands". My immediate thought was: "Gee, are you sure about that?" The clock is ticking and with loud applause, many a young man smelling of sweat begins to delve into the green and black abracadabra for me. Okay, what now?

At 04:30 we decided that we couldn't keep our eyes open enough and that we should go to sleep for a few hours.

EventInsight are participating in TapGuard, an idea to prevent the police from intercepting innocent civilians in capital offences. The goal is, instead of a scatter gun approach, to create an efficient and legally valid system so that citizens have more privacy, while the police can focus more on perpetrators rather than getting "bureaucratic stamps". During the Hackathon there are Jedi's walking around providing us with specialist information. This way the public prosecutor can explain to us the current legal system and the implications of a capital crime. For example, a privacy specialist from the Ministry of the Interior can tell us if we are in violation of the constitution. Fortunately, we also speak to a cryptology expert who knows how to solve this with polymorphic pseudonymisation. After four exercises, it is starting to come out of my mouth relatively flawlessly and I notice that throwing jargon around is still a good conviction technique. I therefore conclude that this is why I am here. I'm here to ask a lot of questions and frame our business case as a result.

On the contrary to our competitors, who seem to be practically ready, we don't yet have a final plan at 18:00 on Saturday. There are 18 hours left, the business case can still be formulated and the BlockChain technology can still be programmed. Naturally, I'll take care of the first one. At 04:30 we decided that we couldn't keep our eyes open enough and that we should go to sleep for a few hours. After the alarm clock goes off at 08:30, again at around 08:35, and once more at 08:45, I get up at 09:30, relatively sharp thanks to three cups of coffee, again with my laptop under my arm ready to make the final adjustments to the presentation.

There are thirty minutes to the deadline and our programmers are delighted. TapGuard's BlockChain is working and has a very neat code (let me tell you). However, ten minutes before the clock has its thundering impact on the audience, I see stress: the servers are down, and the code has crashed. Even I understand this is not good... Our nerds manage to solve the problem just in time and we are ready for the judging. Three days of hard work packed into ten minutes is an achievement in itself, especially when you look at the complex subject matter behind it. In addition to the jury, we present TapGuard to a large newspaper, a group of investors, and a BlockChain podcast. After these impressive presentations, it's time for some well-deserved relaxation... We can put our feet up and there's nothing more we can do...

I am as proud as a peacock at the moment, during the award ceremony EventInsight are announced as third in the public safety track. At the biggest BlockChain hackathon in the world, our team comes third. After this weekend it becomes clear to me: A hackathon is only for real nerds, perhaps I have become one myself....


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