In May Passenger were delighted to sponsor the ‘Local Transport Product Forge’ event in Edinburgh. This 3-day hackathon welcomed more than 50 people and generated a number of great projects. Our congratulations to team SIDE who won the event with their project TransitTalks, which connects local active transport users to planners who assess the potential of their ideas.
The team at Passenger have history with running and attending hackdays, and we strive to attend them because of the opportunities and energy they create. Here’s some of our reasons why we think these type of events are awesome and why we love to support them.
— Passenger (@passengerteam) March 25, 2017
The time constraints of a hackday encourage teams to work together quickly and stay as focused as possible. You have to make the most of the time you have by playing to the strengths and abilities of your team. A well facilitated event and some great challenges can bring out the best in people, producing some great results. As in any team, agreeing responsibilities early on can help everyone to stay on track and feel valued (and valuable!) as the project progresses.
Some of the best working relationships come from hack days. Attending an event to build something new in your own time demonstrates a great deal of commitment over and above the norm. Getting involved and giving your best alongside new people, in a different environment can be challenging but is a great opportunity to show people what you can do, without the pressures and pain of job interviews and HR teams.
Get access to great mentors
Look at the mentor list for this event. Where else would you be able to chat to such a swathe of diverse experts from different fields, and get their direct opinion and feedback? The best hack days will bring experts together from different disciplines, whether that’s expertise in technology product design or domain expertise that helps to shape an effective solution. Hack days are also rare opportunities to break down traditional supplier – buyer relationships too, and have conversations that otherwise might not otherwise be easy to have.
Be a part of the development community
Hackdays provide much-needed facetime with other people in the development community. As developers, we can often find ourselves on our favourite place – the internet. Hackdays bring people together in a way that allows us to learn new things from others directly. Whether you’re a new developer or a veteran, there’s always something to learn or teach.
Who knows what could happen?
The opportunities offered by a hackday are vast and varied. A new product could be born, a business could be created, and exciting new relationships formed. A hackday is often where the best ideas are formed and quickly battle-tested in front of judges and mentors. What might seem like a good idea during the day, might get shut down early by an experienced industry insider. Rather than being a negative thing this is incredibly valuable, as it means you won’t be wasting your time and energy or something that won’t make a difference. ‘Failing fast’ means you can succeed quicker next time, and perhaps with only minor changes (or ‘pivots’) to your idea.
Learn new things
Hackdays can push you out of your comfort zone and provide a great opportunity to learn new things. With new datasets to access and challenges to fulfill, you’ll have to learn new things quick. But at a good hack event, there will be people there willing to help.
Doing good and making a difference
A hackday often gives you direct access to change-makers in an industry or region. In transport, that means councils, transport operators, data providers, industry suppliers, and more – people that want new, innovative ideas to improve the customer experience.
If you are organising a transport-related hack event and would like us to support you, please get in touch. We would love to help.
We’ll also be at the IMCreate Connected & Autonomous Vehicles hackathon, by Transport Systems Catapult on 1st-2nd July, so please come and say hi. We’d love to hear what you’ve been up to in transport technology.
Picture and video by Jakub Tansey (Product Forge)