Simon Community Scotland Crowned the Winners of Glasgow’s First Homeless Hackathon
Homeless charity Simon Community Scotland and a tech-savvy team of experts were voted Glasgow’s first homeless hackathon winners last weekend at Citizen M hotel.
The team’s winning app, RSPV Live, will enable Simon Community Scotland’s workers and volunteers to report the location and physical condition of vulnerable people on the job.
The three -day long hackathon saw Simon Community Scotland’s service manager Megan Thomson join forces with data analytics postgraduate student Ahmed Median, web developer Steven Grant and software developer Alan Russell who brought her idea to life.
Megan Thomson said: “I cannot thank the guys on my team enough. They worked tirelessly, and the end result is nothing short of amazing.
“We have tried different technologies before, but none of them really compliment the work we do so, this was a chance to think outside of the box.
“The app our team created is amazing, and once fully live, will make a huge difference to how my team work on any given day. It will also make responding to public concerns more fluid, with us reaching vulnerable people to provide support much easier.”
The hackathon extended an open invitation to people of all professions and backgrounds, with local organisations such as Social Bite, Bethany Christian Trust and Feed Glasgow among some of the eight groups competing.
Business management student Anna from @SEME_glasgow discusses how she believes their creative venture can help the homeless.
In charge of the hackathon was events consultant William Thomson. He said: “What brought everyone together was the desire to help the crisis of homelessness in Scotland. It really didn’t matter what their background was as that gave everyone a shared focus.”
The eight pitches addressed a number of key issues faced by competitors which they felt could be solved by technology.
Clinical Lead/Consultant Dr Alan Whitelaw outlined the broadness of the term homelessness, which ranges from rough sleepers and couch surfers, to people in temporary accommodation. and hospital outpatients.
Whitelaw’s pitch revealed that those who arrive at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital’s emergency department, on the point of desperation, with “an acute form of nowhere to go-ism,” are an ongoing concern for himself and his colleagues.
A number of the pitches outlined the need for an app to provide up to date information on all of the homeless organisations in Glasgow, as concerns were raised about how many homeless people are unaware of local services available to them.
Sponsors of the hackathon HRC Recruitment attended the event. Digital consultant Ian Anderson said: “Homelessness is a huge problem in Glasgow – we see it every day from our city centre base – and we felt compelled to get involved.
“Not only was it really interesting to see the amazing coding talent present, it was a great opportunity to hear some incredibly innovative ideas with regards to tackling larger social issues. We absolutely loved taking part!”