OPEN Future Hacks, the new initiative that aims to improve the world through technology
- Henry Northmore
- 22 April 2014
'A Future City is one which adapts to the people in it: it empowers everyone to have a real effect on the city and encourages new thinking'
Glasgow is taking bold steps into the future by embracing technology and pooling collective knowledge. 'The Future City | Glasgow programme started last year when the city won £24 million from the Technology Strategy Board to demonstrate how technology can make life in the city smarter, safer and more sustainable,' explains Scott Sherwood of Future City | Glasgow. 'The future is not about flying cars or robot butlers – at least, not yet. Right now, it’s about enhancing everyday experiences in the city – from intelligent street lighting to increased energy efficiency and easier travel. A Future City is one which adapts to the people in it: it empowers everyone to have a real effect on the city and encourages new thinking.'
Future Hacks is an innovative crowdsourcing project tapping into the skills, knowledge and talents of Glasgow's residents. A new initiative that means people can have a real effect on the city they live in. It takes the form of a hackathon where teams come together to pitch, design and develop an idea in a 48-hour blizzard of ideas, coding, coffee and pizza. 'Each Hack starts on a Friday evening with presentations, pitches and a time for teams to form. With the support of mentors, participants develop their ideas over the weekend. The event culminates on Sunday evening with final presentations to convince the judges that the idea has the potential to truly make a difference,' adds Sherwood. 'The time limit is to focus people's minds and spark creativity.' The winning project from each event then wins £20,000. 'Winners use the cash to continue to develop their idea with the aim of bringing it to market and becoming part of the Future City | Glasgow story.'
The previous two hackathons dealt with issues of public safety and energy, the winning entries being MS Glasgow (a new system of providing information to emergency services via smart phones) and Energy Reporter (which alerts users when energy usage in council buildings is higher than average).
The next two instalments deal with health (25–27 April) and transport (30 May–1 June) and they are open to anyone and everyone. It's not just about technical skills but new ways of thinking about the urban environment. It's an opportunity to get involved and make a real difference. 'There is a perception that hackathons are for programmers but the events invite a wide mix of people with diverse skills to reflect Glasgow's diversity. Participants share a mind-set to make things better,' says Sherwood. 'There is no set brief or specific challenge; we don’t know what the participants will come up with. This is the essence of innovation.'