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July 2, 2019

Hacking Carrots Edition I: the Social Impact

Agata Piekut by Agata

More than a hackathon - lessons learned from the first edition of Hacking Carrots Program.

Our first Hacking Carrots Hackathon was a blast! Thank you to all of our Participants, Mentors, Volunteers and Partners for teaming up with us to work for 48 hours on creating solutions for Sustainable Development Goals.

But after all emotions go down, and the winning team concentrates on their work to make their dream come true, what really matters is the social impact it brought. Hacking Carrots is not just a hackathon, but an IT educational program that connects advanced technologies with social entrepreneurship.

What did we achieve?

1. Impact on the visibility of women in IT

Hackathons are supposed to be a sort of boys-club, a space designed for hardcore non-stop programming. 

Yet, we had 79 % tickets booked by female participants and 59 % of the attendees were women.

How did we achieve this?

  • Challenges: we focused on solving real-world, social problems, technology took second place. Thanks to this nobody felt excluded regarding the competencies.
  • Atmosphere: from providing opportunities for networking, like lunches and dinners in the separate zone so that everyone had to stop their work, rest a little and chat with other participants and mentors. We also arranged yoga and meditation classes.
  • Family-friendly event: we provided kids zone during the day and closed the doors for the night so that people with young kids weren’t excluded by the circumstances.

2. Impact on the understanding of Sustainable Development Goals in Poland

Although our main educational focus is on teaching and upskilling in IT (programming, UX etc.), as we’re on the frontline of the technological revolution, we understand that what you code is equally important.

And one hackathon is not enough to change it.

That’s why we’ve planned a long-term program which during the next couple of years will focus on three aspects: educating IT community about the UN’s SDGs, upskilling programmers in advanced technologies and building prototypes of solutions.

During the first edition we conducted:

  • 4 meetups with industry experts and thought leaders about the four SDGs: future-proof Education (Goal 4), AI in Business (Goal 9), Smart Cities (goal 11) and Civic Tech (Goal 16)
  • 3 Workshops in advanced technologies: AI in the Cloud, Data Science, UX for VR/AR.

This strategy helped us to provide opportunities for true inclusion and to address two big challenges:

  • Lack of technology experts to work on sustainable development initiatives. 
  • Lack of diversity in advanced technologies work environment.

How did it work out in practice?

The Winners: building for global impact from day one

The winning team fundao created a prototype of a service, that based on blockchain technology, would connect beneficiaries, providers of services and donors directly:

The decision of the Jury was unanimous. Here are the factors that convinced the Members to grant the main award to this team:

  • Consistent with the chosen Sustainable Development Goal
  • Well-defined social need
  • Potential for entering global markets
  • Potential for the implementation as a business solution in circular economy
  • Team’s experience in the chosen technology (blockchain)
  • Quality of the presentation
  • Innovative and creative solution

The New Generation of socially-conscious developers

Inclusion and diversity are not achieved by promoting one underrepresented group in a given community. It’s about engaging all representatives of a society. That’s why we were very happy to welcome to the hackathon teams created by high school and university students – a new generation that learns from the very beginning how to connect technology and social impact. Among them were the winners of the second place and the special award for best Smart City project: Code Hussar who created a prototype of an app to crowdfound local projects (on the neighbourhood level).

Together for Sustainable Cities and more

One thing that surprised us most (and what a positive surprise it was!) was the strong representation of the teams that decided to take up the smart cities challenge. Apart from the winning team, other projects that were presented during pitching contest were:

  • My swamp – a platform for the exchange of information on planned changes in the city infrastructure with such functions as opinion zone based on blockchain technology or 3D models of new investments.
  • guerillazz – a toolkit for adapting the public spaces for the needs of teenagers
  • Plan your city – an app for organizing and finding new events in one’s location to help neighbours connect
  • Tu Mieszkać – an information service for people who plan to move to a new location
  • City Ninjas – an app to report dangerous spots in the city (e.g. holes in the streets)
  • green whistle – an information service about submitted applications for cutting trees in the city
  • Muszę zasuwać – a map that combines data from different services available in Warsaw (e.g. Wikipedia, Go Out, Zomato, Warszawa 19115).

We really loved how diverse all the projects were in the end and that each challenge was addressed by the participants:

Future-proof Education

  • Watermelons – a gaming platform for teenagers focused on cybersecurity education
  • Pieski Piorunki – an educational platform for journalists

Civic Tech

  • Bąbelki – a plugin for web browser that informs users about information bubbles in their social media feeds, as well as presenting alternative sources of information

AI in Business

  • HighFive – an app that helps to activate citizens to use participatory budgeting

Together for SDGs

This event was a success thanks to the engagement of:

Our Volunteers

Thank You: Aleksandra Hermanowicz, Karolina Popławska, Klaudia Dec, Magdalena Komorowska, Magdalena Ruta and Sylwia Paczuska

Our Mentors

Thank You: Alicja Cessak, Arkadiusz Szczudło, Brygida Dzidek, Dominik Komar, Kamila Sidor, Karo Wysocka, Katarzyna Marczak, Krzysztof Wittels, Łukasz Król, Maria Połońska, Michał Kliś, Nikolay Pavlenko, Piotr Grabowski, Rudradeb Mitra, Ruslan Korniichuk and Sylwia Kobayashi

Our Jury

Thank You: Diana Koziarska, Kinga Barchoń, Małgorzata Ratajska-Grandin, Jerzy Brodzikowski, Łukasz Stefanik, Piotr Mieczkowski and Tadeusz Osowski

And our Partners

Thank you and see you next year!

Geek Girls Carrots Team

From the left: Adelina Frydel (Project Manager), Małgorzata Ratajska-Grandin (CEO), Elizabeth Tishchenko (Junior Project Manager), Agata Piekut (Communication Manager)

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