Hacking for Humanity in Brisbane | NetEngine

Hacking for Humanity in Brisbane

In July last year I attended Agile Australia in Sydney and my favourite talk was by Pete Cohen from DiUS Consulting in Melbourne who introduced me to the Random Hacks of Kindness movement.

RHoK is a global movement of hackers who hack for good around the world, twice a year. It was started in 2009 by Google, NASA, Yahoo!, Microsoft and the World Bank, and since then RHoK has been bringing together thousands of people around the world to create open source solutions that can save lives and alleviate suffering.

I immediately got hold of the team at DiUS to learn more, and NetEngine registered to host RHoK Brisbane’s first event in December, as part of the final global hackathon for 2013.

Who did we help?

The biggest problem that Queensland Kids and their families are facing is being able to access the services and information available to them.

We brought together over 30 people to hack a solution to bridge this gap, taking advantage of all the existing resources, open data, and technology solutions we could find. Our problem owner got some of the families of QLD Kids to talk to us first, giving us an overwhelming reminder of why we’d just given up our weekend. Hearing from our users in advance of kicking off any code also provided valuable insights into the actual problem before we set out to solve it.

Rhok Brisbane 2013

The Outcome

Arguably one of the most valuable outcomes of the weekend were from the presentations done by the four groups after their ideation sessions on the first day. After hearing from the families we split into four groups of varying skills, generated ideas for solutions over a couple hours, then presented these for inclusion in the final solution.

Following over 20 hours of development QLD Kids now have an extensible application with multiple data sources and multiple user types, that will become more useful as it’s used - as it’s curated by the community.

Lessons learnt

Bite sized piece: In hindsight I think we should have had constraints around the size the problem we tackled. We may have created more value by tackling a smaller piece of the problem.

Too many cooks on 1 problem: We had only 1 problem to solve, and 30 people trying to solve it. From a software coding point of view it was perhaps too many from too many different skill sets, so next time we’ll aim to bring on more problems and split into separate teams on projects. More coders doesn’t always increase the velocity, just as nine women can’t make a baby in one month.

Thanks and see you mid year

Thank you to the the hackers in Brisbane who gave up all of their weekend. Thank you to the team at DiUS in Melbourne for all their guidance in making the inaugural Brisbane hack go so smoothly. Thanks to the problem owners from Queensland Kids for inspiring us and giving up yet more of your very precious time, and lastly thanks to the sponsors Ninefold, Grill’d and Tonic.

If you’re a hacker and would like to get involved in June’s RHoK in Brisbane please join our meetup group and if you’re a worthy problem owner please contact us at info@rhokbrisbane.org