Hack 4 Good: Harnessing technology to help people with disability fulfil their potential
Thu 17 November 2016
Over 4 million people in Australia have some form of disability. That's 1 in 5 people. But as we’ve seen in recent times, the advent of powerful, mobile and intelligent technologies has the potential to radically improve the lives and opportunities for all Australians, particularly those with disability.
Last month we put the call out to our Platinum and Gold members to participate in Hack 4 Good; a Hackathon organised by Microsoft Australia in collaboration with Australian Network on Disability (AND) and Social Ventures Australia (SVA). The aim was to bring skilled developers together to devise new, innovative technology solutions to improve the day-to-day lives of people with disability.
Held over the 14th and 15th of November, 14 teams (including seven AND members) gathered at the University of NSW in Sydney to promote inclusiveness, build community and harness technology to help people living with disability fulfil their potential.
The teams emerged with a range of impressive proposals and prototypes. They outlined their plans and expectations for their designs to a panel of judges including AND CEO, Suzanne Colbert, as well as Jane Watson from SVA, Marie Johnson from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and Wayne Hawkins, the Disability Policy Advisor at the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN). The judging criteria focussed on impact and innovation, feasibility and collaboration, and execution. The Department of Human Services ‘Utopia’ app and MYOB’s GoHelp app were selected as the winners.
The Utopia app is intended as a navigation tool that helps people find the most accessible route to their destination based partly on crowdsourced information. GoHelp meanwhile is a platform that matches volunteers with people near to them who need help with relatively simple tasks such as carrying shopping or freeing a stuck wheelchair.
Both teams will now be supported by SVA with a range of services including mentoring, ideation and project implementation valued at $25,000 per team. Winners will also be invited to attend and present their solutions at Microsoft Ignite Australia, held on the Gold Coast next February.
Following the Hack for Good, the winning teams had the opportunity to meet with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella while he is visiting Australia.
It was a tight field with many exceptional ideas devised and shared – each one of which could make a significant difference to the lives of people with disability.
To read more about participating teams and their solutions, visit Microsoft Australia’s website.
We would like to thank every organisation and individual involved for their incredible work in helping us make this event possible, and extend a hearty congratulations to the winners and participants for their amazing achievements.