2016 VAST Challenge: MC3

Overview – Background for Mini-Challenge 3

After the successful resolution of the 2014 kidnapping at GAStech’s Abila, Kronos office, GAStech officials determined that Abila offices needed a significant upgrade. At the end of 2015, the growing company moved into a new, state-of-the-art three-story building near their previous location. Even though the employee morale rose somewhat with the excitement of the new building, there are still a few disgruntled employees in the company.

The new office is built to the highest energy efficiency standard, but as with any new building, there are still several HVAC issues to work out. The building is divided into several HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) zones. Each zone is instrumented with sensors that report building temperatures, heating and cooling system status values, and concentration levels of various chemicals such as carbon dioxide (abbreviated CO2) and hazium (abbreviated Haz), a recently discovered and possibly dangerous chemical. CEO Sten Sanjorge Jr. has read about hazium and requested that these sensors be included. However, they are very new and very expensive, so GAStech can afford only a small number of sensors.

With their move into the new building, GAStech also introduced new security procedures, which staff members are not necessarily adopting consistently. Staff members are now required to wear proximity (prox) cards while in the building.

The building is instrumented with passive prox card readers that cover individual building zones. The prox card zones do not generally correspond with the HVAC zones. When a prox card passes into a new zone, it is detected and recorded. Most, but not all, areas are still open to staff members even if they forget their prox cards. People are somewhat careless with their prox cards, but some diligent staff members will go to the security desk and pick up a new prox card if their old one is mislaid.

As part of the deal to entice GAStech to move into this new building, the builders included a free robotic mail delivery system. This robot, nicknamed Rosie, travels the halls periodically, moving between floors in a specially designed chute. Rosie is equipped with a mobile prox sensor, which identifies the prox cards in the areas she travels through.

Mini-Challenge 2 provides a two-week set of static data for you to analyze, covering May 31 to June 13, 2016. Mini-Challenge 3 provides a stream of data for June 14-16, 2016.

Mini-Challenge 3: Your Challenge

GAStech does not have a dedicated team analyzing its operational data 24 hours a day. An employee is assigned to keep an eye on the data and address issues during day shift, but he is frequently called away or distracted by other duties. GAStech is looking for a visual analytics solution that will allow someone to come up to speed on current events and trends, as well as to understand recent events that took place while the employee steps away, either for a few minutes or for a long weekend.
You will have the following data at your disposal:
  • Static data
    • A building layout for the GAStech offices, including the maps of the prox zones and the HVAC zones
    • A current list of employees, roles, and office assignments
    • A description of the data formats and fields provided
  • Streaming data. You will have a stream of data containing 2.5 days of data covering the period June 14 (midnight) - June 16 (noon). This data immediately follows the data from the static datasets in Mini-Challenge 2. It includes
    • Proximity sensor data for each of the prox zone regions
    • Proximity sensor data from Rosie the mobile robot
    • HVAC sensor readings and status information from each of the building’s HVAC zones
    • Hazium readings from four sensors.
You will be asked to answer the following types of questions:
  1. Describe the unusual or unexpected patterns and anomalies you observe in the first two days of streaming data (June 14-15).
  2. Which additional sensor did you choose to add? What was the rationale for your selection? Did it provide additional insight?
  3. Describe anomalies or unusual events you saw in the last four hours of the data stream.
  4. Describe how your team approached the challenge of catching up on events that took place when you were not monitoring the data stream. How could these features be used to help you reconsider recent data in light of new events?

The goal of the challenge is to develop new approaches to allow people to understand current data, as well as to catch up on events that took place while the system was not being monitored. The challenge organizers do not expect or want teams to monitor the data stream constantly throughout the 2.5 days (60 hours)! Check the data streams periodically as needed to ensure your software is working as expected and you are able to identify patterns of interest. Capture screen shots to include in your submission when you identify items of significance.

Please do monitor the data stream approximately 56 hours after starting. When the data stream reaches June 16 at 8:00 a.m. (which will be about 56 hours after you start the data stream), you will receive a prompt to select from a set of potential locations at which to place an additional chemical sensor. You will have one hour to choose from the possible locations. Once you choose a location, the data for that chemical sensor will be added to your stream. Some locations will be more helpful than others will, so choose wisely. If you do not choose within one hour, you will still receive the remainder of the data, but you will not have another opportunity to add a chemical sensor.

Accessing the Test Stream and Official Data Stream

When you are ready to begin working with the streaming data, send an email to VASTChal2016MC3 at gmail.com with your name, your institution, and the names of your other team members. You will receive a response that includes the name of the web server to connect to, and a user ID to use for the web service connection. Please note that these responses are not automated, so it may take a day or two to receive a response.

A test data stream will be made available, which will be composed of the first day of data from Mini-Challenge 2 in a streaming format. You will be able to replay this data as many times as you choose. This data will also include an example of the type of prompt you will receive to select the additional sensor you wish to place in the building.

The official data stream for the challenge will cover 60 hours of data. It will stream continuously over 60 hours, although you can restart it from where you left off if you lose your data connection. The official data stream for the challenge can be run only once.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Hazium? Hazium is a (fictitious) chemical that has become a recent concern on the island of Kronos. Not much is known about its effects, but it is suspected that Hazium is not good for people.
  2. I noticed a few inconsistencies in the floor plans provided. Thank you for your attention to detail! We have revised the floor plans, the prox zones, and the HVAC zones to correct some minor inconsistencies. These revisions are available beginning May 5. Please download a new version of the files!
  3. Can we use the data from Mini-Challenge 2 to build a prior for Mini-Challenge 3? Yes, that approach is permitted. If you choose to take this approach, please use the Mini-Challenge 2 data for your model, rather than the streaming data sample provided for Mini-Challenge 3. The Hazium sensors in the Mini-Challenge 2 data are the same as those sensors used for the Mini-Challenge 3 official data stream. Different sensors are provided in the practice stream.
  4. How do we test the process to select an additional hazium sensor stream? The test data stream for MC3 should present you with a control message one minute into the stream, and allow you to request one of a list of hazium sensors to add to your feed. If you do not want to add a sensor, that is fine. However, it is an opportunity to get new data. If you are not seeing this message, please let us know.
  5. Where can we find the instructions to connect to the data server? Download the zip file labeled "MC3 Answer Sheet and Important Info". It contains a zip called vast2016-example-client-js.zip. One of the files in that zip file is the instructions file, serverDocs.docx.
  6. In streaming data, can we expect to get some extra prox ids apart from the ones obtained in the static data? It is possible, but not guaranteed, that you will see additional prox IDs in the streaming data.
  7. Can you provide more info on the data provided in the mobile proximity card data? Are the x,y coordinates bound to a normal (x,y) plane, where in this case the plane is the floor maps? The (x,y) coordinates are bound to a normal plane. The (x,y) plus the floor number would identify a specific location. The lower left of the provided map is (0,0) and the upper right is (189,111).

Submission Instructions

Instructions on how to submit your entry can be found at 2016 MC2 and 3 Submission Instructions.

Download the Data and Submission Form

The submission form, instructions and sample code are now available. Enter your email in the box below to download the submission form and supporting information and example test programs for this mini-challenge. This email will be used by conference organizers if it is necessary to contact you regarding any corrections to the mini-challenge.

VAST Challenge 2016 MC3: Download Files
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Page last modified on Friday, September 09, 2016