Hack Days - Finding solutions to real world problems.

10 Sep. 2018 | Emily O'Neil

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Our challenge was to solve a problem using publicly available data sets.

We were given four different themes which the team identified as areas of interest: Future Cities, Health, Urban Living and Transport. Public data sets were provided to support each theme and the teams were tasked to analyse & interpret the data to find a problem which could be solved — in one day! We were working to a deadline as each team was due to present concepts back to the wider team — 8 hours later. It was up to us from that point how we arrived at the end result…

We split off into two teams who were evenly weighted based on skill set — designers, developers & PMs.

Our teams were:

Team Aurora
Team Beehive


Team Aurora

Team Aurora took a personal approach to the challenge.

I was part of Team A – or Team Aurora. We began by unpacking each theme as a group, and whilst skimming across the data provided, we identified a challenge that was personal to each member of the team; public safety. After recent events in Melbourne that sparked a debate around public safety, we felt strongly about finding a solution.

With a common interest decided upon early, we worked to prioritise key themes which would provide a focus for our solution. We discovered that overall, public safety affected our freedom day to day. Three key factors were carefully considered when it came to feeling free in public; lifestyle, community and urban environment. We drew on data sets that aligned with these themes. They needed to provide insights to help shape our solution, for example, pedestrian congestion, street lights, public service and transportation locality.

We conceptualised a digital ecosystem, Freeroam, which integrates with existing mobile platforms so users are empowered to understand their surroundings and make informed decisions on how to travel through Melbourne.

A mobile app was designed to utilise the data sets available in order to provide real-time information for users mapping journeys. We also considered the product roadmap and demonstrated how Freeroam could scale globally.


Team Beehive

Team Beehive took a strategic and data-driven approach to the challenge.

Our opponents were Team B — or Beehive. They immediately dug into the data, rapidly identifying areas for improvement and prioritising them as a group. Their chosen focus was accessibility.

The group were quick to make decisions by using fast validation methods. This gave the team more time to focus their effort on fine-tuning their idea.

Their solution, Access-able, is a tool that provides people with disabilities, and their support network, with agency as the navigate and plan their journey through Melbourne.

The tool references a number of data sets provided that contained information on the accessibility levels across public transport and spaces in Melbourne.


Wrap Up

We presented our results at the end of the day, along with our research and methodology. I was surprised at how different each teams’ interpretation of the brief was. While one team practiced rapid iteration and prototyping to validate their ideas, the other team found a core focus early on and went wide with their vision and future implementation.

The process demonstrated the value of multiple minds when it comes to problem solving — we all approached the problem from a different perspective based on our background & experiences. There was no right or wrong approach. It highlighted the diversity in our team and the value in collaboration. We all came away with a better understanding of each others strengths and skill sets, enabling us to work more efficiently as a team.

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