EU Datathon 2022 teams behind the apps: Meet EMMA
‘The teams behind the apps’ is a series of videos made by the EU Datathon finalists. Get to know this year’s teams and their apps over 12 episodes, twice per week, in the run-up to the competition finals. On 20 October, the teams will pitch their apps to the jury that will select the winners. The audience will also have a chance to support their favorite team in the Public Choice Award vote. Register now to follow the finals online!
‘Emma Monitors Malicious Activity’ (EMMA) is a prevention and early detection tool against fraud. It enables public institutions, journalists and civil society to automatically control the relationship between parties in public procurement. The one-man team behind this app, Marc Fouqué, joined us for a short interview in which we talked about the app, the idea that led to its creation and why he decided to participate in the EU Datathon.
How are you doing with the app? What’s the status?
A lot of things have been done but there is still more to do. The goal is to have a minimal working system at the end of the summer, even if it has limited data compared to what I planned. The database and the reasoner (a piece of software able to infer logical consequences from a set of facts) will always be a work in progress, with new datasets and new kinds of data to be added. The front end is not the best that we can find out there, but I will give my all in the final stretch to make it sexy.
How did you come up with the idea for this app?
People who know me will say that I am always angry, but actually I am not just angry; I am also hungry, hungry for more justice, more democracy, more equality. At my level, one of my strongest assets is my set of computer skills, so I decided to try to build a system that can improve this big thing that we call democracy.
At the same time, every day (like always) the news carries reports about public representatives doing shady things, often with public money, so I chose to build a system allowing everybody to monitor the links and actions of public representatives, based on open data and mandatory public information. When I began, I wondered why nobody had done this before. Now I know: because it consumes time and energy, changes very fast and the volume of the dataset is mind-boggling.
Why did you decide to take part in the EU Datathon?
Once I had a good idea of the system I wanted to build, I started looking for datasets. While wallowing in all the available data, I ended up with forty tabs open on data.europa.eu, with one of them linked to the EU Datathon website – and there I was, watching the team presentation videos at 3 a.m.
I quickly understood that my subject was too vast to be covered in one go and needed to be narrowed down: that is where the EU Datathon challenge 2 (‘Transparency in public procurement’) came into the picture. After a night of searching and testing around the field of public procurement, I decided to go for this as a first step – and what a step it has been!
Competing in the EU Datathon helps me to commit to the project by focusing my motivation and pushing further without checking out to another branch or project (git pun intended).
To find out more about EMMA, watch this 1-minute video.