While the hackathon Machine refuels, let's look at where the dream began.

I'd had a dream for some time. It was to enhance the lives of people with a disability through innovation and the startup community.

At first it was expressed by the idea for a hackathon called #HackTheChair. The purpose of the hackathon was to find ways to pimp out wheelchairs with technology to give wheelchair users Inspector Gadget like super powers.  Mr Gadget was my younger brother's (who inspired the idea for HackTheChair) and my favourite cartoon character growing up.. But after discussing my idea with many people who were interested in getting involved from the start, like Stephen Cluskey and Noelle Daly, of Mobility Mojo, it became clear that if we were to do this, it'd have to be done in a way that was inclusive to people of all kinds of abilities. After all, this hackathon was to be focused on inclusion, as one of the worst things anyone can experience in life is being excluded because they're a bit different to the majority.

More than just a fun weekend hackathon

Hack Access Dublin is more than a weekend event; it's a framework to support startup enthusiasts, innovators, designers, engineers, technologists - highly skilled, creative, and motivated individuals - to work together with stakeholder groups to solve the accessibility challenges which prevent our city being as inclusive to people of all abilities, as it can be.

This framework supports the many parts which need to work together, like a machine capable of moving this city towards an inclusive society.  

News about the winners

First and third placed team, SEMO and Seaprk, respectively, are two of those many parts - and I'd consider them (no pressure guys!) to be instrumental in propelling the Hack Access Dublin machine forward as they're demonstrating there's a genuine, purposeful and determine group of people who're willing to, well, expend their time and energy and passion to access in Dublin. And I am extremely grateful to them for their efforts thus far.   

At the beginning of their proof of concept stage, teams were coached to break down their specific goal for the end of the 3 month proof of concept stage, into specific, measurable objectives.  The aim was that each team has as much clarity as possible around what they are endeavouring to achieve on a week by week basis; and what they expect of each other! This clarity will help them avoid becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge(s) they're hoping to solve and to help them maintain a positive working relationship during this stage.

Winners of the pitch, SEMO have taken residence in Dogpatch Labs for their proof of concept stage. Their idea is to develop an application network of volunteers who can assist users in need of assistance using the transport system in Dublin.  They are focused on building a prototype by the end of their 3 months, which started at the end of January.

Seaprk, whose idea to provide real-time information on the availability of disabled parking spaces in Dublin, placed third in November's pitch. They have taken up residence in DCU Alpha to develop their solution.

Nissan return as this year's major sponsor and the hackathon will return to The Garage in Google, over the weekend of 10-12 November, with the launch being held in Dogpatch Labs in October.  

A team of volunteers is being assembled this month. If you're interested in helping make 2017's hackathon even better than last year, please get in touch with Janice@greatlifedistillery.com. 

Janice Valentine