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NSYSU Big Data Team discloses information about tenders in Taiwan with a new application

(Report by student journalist) In the fast-developing global digital era, the usage of digital instruments for data integration has become a crucial field of study. Students of the Department of Information Management and the Department of Political Economy at National Sun Yat-sen University formed the Big Data Team and participated in the 2019 National University Competition in Digital Humanities and Big Data with their project “Tender Helper – business analyst”, so far the only system for tender analysis in Taiwan free-of-charge. With information transparency, the team hopes to avoid misuse of taxpayers’ money and improve industry competitiveness. The innovative design of the Tender Helper website was highly appraised and obtained the highest award in this year’s competition.

It took one month and a half to transform the idea into the “Tender Helper” website. The website has three functions: a tender search engine, competitor analysis, and potential competitor analysis. The tender search engine lets the user obtain information about tenders won over the years by the searched company. The competitor analysis function lists information about the tender winner and records the tender process, letting enterprises know about what is happening in their sector, and, quoting Sunzi’s “Art of War” - “know yourself, know your enemy”. The last function - potential competitor analysis, thanks to big data collection and integration, allows the user to analyze and calculate the degree of similarity between their company and their competitor. The tender search system developed by the Team is the only such website free-of-charge in Taiwan. The Team hopes that as the system is gradually optimized, more industry-academia cooperation opportunities and commercial functions will arise.

The Big Data Team is guided by Distinguished Professor Da-Chi Liao of the Graduate Institute of Politics at NSYSU and the founder of QSearch Shih-En Chou. The participating students include Ya-Ju Yang and Tai-I Liu of the Department of Information Management and students of the Department of Political Economy Yu-Wen Lai and I-Yang Huang. Professor Liao pointed out that interdisciplinary education is an important future development trend; students of programs unrelated to information technology would undoubtedly improve their professional skills in integration and analysis by learning programming. Students of Political Economy collected and compiled text materials, while those of Information Management designed a back-end database and website, creating a tender analysis system.

Tenders are something mysterious in pragmatic politics in Taiwan, but at the same time, it’s an important issue for resource distribution. Professor Liao said that for a long time tenders were the reason why people were denounced, mostly because the information could not be disclosed and transparent. Although the government imposed restrictions on the procurement law, in some construction bids, big tenders can arrange two or three companies that engage in bid-rigging, and by this deceitful trick lead to the misuse of taxpayers’ money. To prevent this fraudulent practice, the Team designed the “Tender Helper” website, which by indicating winning companies of the past years, comparing their capital, and displaying the lists of competitors, promotes competition between the bidding companies. What is more, users can freely access information and keep an eye on the tenders.

One of the members of the Big Data Team and a student of the senior year of the Department of Information Management Tai-I Liu was responsible for the design of the website interface and the application testing. “The one-and-half month competition gave us a lot of pressure!”. She said, that although at first the Team of students of different disciplines needed some time for adjustment, it proved successful in the end. For example, when designing the plan, she expressed the purpose of the project in one simple sentence: a website that would help people search for information about tenders. Then, with the help of the students of the Department of Political Economy, they conveyed the core value of the project more persuasively. Tai-I Liu said that working as an interdisciplinary team, it was very important to keep an open and modest approach when studying different fields.

The organization of the 2019 National University Competition in Digital Humanities and Big Data was entrusted by the Department of Information and Technology Education of the Ministry of Education to the National Chengchi University. The Competition is the largest interdisciplinary contest in the field of digital humanities in the country. The Competition hopes to emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary education and close collaboration between the industry, government, and academia, elevate the commercial potential of the projects to meet market demands and connect with the industry, and make the students learn to adapt to the quickly changing world.

(Edited by Public Affairs Division)
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