ORM hosted its first Pitch (people innovating to change housing) hackathon at Microsoft’s UK offices earlier this summer, aimed at housing providers looking for fast, collaborative ways to innovate on digital initiatives.
Mark Rogers, director of business transformation, Moat, said, “We’d seen similar events that ORM had been part of and thought this was something that could really help the housing sector. After working with ORM on our own digital transformation project, we knew how agilely they could work and thought that they were the right partner to run a hackathon for housing providers.”
The Pitch hackathon comprised 30 people from six housing providers working together for one day on pre-selected challenges set by housing experts. The participants came from Saxon Weald, Guinness Partnership, Worthing Homes, Paradigm Housing, Home Group and Moat.
Peter Paterson, director of client engagement, ORM, said, “Hackathons are perfect for housing because it allows the sector to work together on common issues within a short, proscribed amount of time. By taking a range of skilled people, from subject-matter experts to developers, designers and strategists, out of their everyday roles, the teams produced prototypes that solved actual sector problems in just eight hours – that just wouldn’t happen in their normal environments.”
On the day, after eight hours of hacking, the four teams presented their business case and prototypes to the panel of judges from Saxon Weald, The Guinness Partnership, Moat and ORM. The winning prototype was for an app that will enable tenants to report on different grounds maintenance issues.
The other ideas developed included an app for vulnerable tenants to pre-order weekly meals from a quarterly menu, a chatbot that uses image-recognition AI and GPS tracking to better diagnose repairs, and an online portal for housing providers to communicate with their tenants via a series of status-tracking messages relating to the housing services they provide, such as repairs.
Lizzie Lawson, senior strategist, ORM, said, “I was a bit apprehensive because I really didn’t think one day would be enough to create anything tangible. Yet, the enthusiasm and determination of my teammates was great, and it clearly shows how limited time and the pressure of a hackathon environment provides a focus for creativity and innovation.”