Community Summit Hackathon

As part of this year’s European Community Summit, the Dynamics Communities team has joined forces with Power Community (previously known as TDG) to host an all day hackathon. I was lucky enough to be a team leader for the event.

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the event was held entirely online and moved from a workday to the weekend so we did have some team members who couldn’t make it. On the day we combined teams to make 3 super teams: Team Blue lead by myself and Matt Collins-Jones, Team Yellow and Team Orange.

Given just the theme of “Save the Planet” and the whole Microsoft Power Platform, Office 365 and Azure stack to play with, each team set about making magic happen.

The whole event was run on a collaboration platform called “Remo” – this was the first time I had used this platform but it was so easy and had a really great interface. The whole platform is based around the concept of sitting at a table together and while at the table, you see and hear the other people at there. During the presentations you just see the people up on the stage. There are multiple tables, even separate floors as well as breakout spaces. For the Hackathon, this worked really well as we could easily talk as a group or split up and go off and work on a table together for the smaller focused discussions.

The result was the three teams came up with completely different solutions;

One team created a Coffee app – this ingenious idea allowed you to book a coffee (virtual or in person) with team members but in an added twist you could put in topics / skills you were looking to learn about and let the app pick a random coffee volunteer for that topic, so as to meet more of your internal team and learn from each other.

The second team created an app that had a carbon calculator to allow you to put in savings, e.g. a 2 mile cycle instead of car journey has x carbon savings. The clever part of the app though was that they created an API layer to enable an origination to make their teams carbon savings public. Imagine the effect this would have if all companies used the app and made their data public, and then was published as a leader board. I really like the way this solution is focused around changing behaviours that ultimately will make positive changes to our planet.

The Blue teams solution (the one I was co-leading) was an ambitious project that met with a 6 hour deadline! We found we had some many ideas but the ones we managed to develop for demonstration were all around recycling. We all know the frustration of seeing an icon on the side of a packet and not knowing what it means, is that recycle or not?! So our app starts at the symbols: a Power App AI Builder was configured to recognise the main global recycling symbols; so you know what this means. For example…

See the source image
PET 1

Know this symbol? No, me either – but we found a whole list of about 25 worldwide symbols that indicate how recyclable a product is and how and where to recycle it. Once you have scanned your image and found out what it means we then gave you the ability to scan in the product bar code – for recognised images this then showed more details about exactly how to recycle the product as supplied by the manufacturers. This process also gave the product a recycling score and if you hit the Recycle button you were awarded that score for your recycle efforts.

The App then allows you to compete on recycling leader boards, as well as joining with other team members to create teams (the idea was around offices or departments) to see who in the organisation was (as we put it on the day for comedy value) the biggest tossers! (good clean fun)

Again, our motive is to not only encourage more recycling with gamification but to get the company looking at buying more recyclable products and to pressure manufacturers to add their product data to the bar code database, encouraging them to make more recyclable data available and add pressure in to making the packaging more environmentally friendly.

And the winners are…

The blue team and I were delighted that, after a long and sometimes challenging day (technology was not respecting our deadline on the day!) we were announced as the winners. We really felt that the other solutions were just as equally deserving and the presentations and effort on the day from all the hackers in all teams was truly amazing.

Congratulations to everyone that took part (unfortunately haven’t got the space to mention you all here) but the blue team was made up of these lovely people; Matt Collins- Jones, Michael Heidweiller, Matthias Pfeiffer, Evelina Petrauskiene and Ian Jensen.

As far as I know none of us have received the official award in the post yet but we are assured its on its way and I’ll up date you all here when it arrives 🙂

This really was a great event, from the Remo Platform we used to people who turned up to learn, to the team leads, the enigmatic Power Community team (Chris Huntingford, Will Dorrington, Lee Baker) and the hosts Dynamic Communities. This is definitely an event I’d attend again and again and again.

Thanks for listening – don’t forget to leave comments below or get in touch with me directly if you’d like to chat about the content posted here or anything to do with the Power Platform – I’m a Business Applications speaker and evangelist with a clear focus on delivering real business value from technology. I speak at least once a month so please find me at an event and #LetsGetCoffee

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