Health Hackathon FAQs

The questions in this list are those that I’ve faced repeatedly while researching and preparing for our hackathon. If you have a question that is not answered here, please tell me about it.

Q. How do I register?

A. Click on this link and complete the form.

Q. How do the teams form?

A. On the Friday evening, just after the hackathon has been declared open, people will be invited to pitch their ideas to those present. If you’re interested in working on a particular idea, then volunteer to join that group.

Q. How much of an idea do I need to be able to attend?

A. Some people attend with a well formed idea that they want to progress to the next level. Others come along with a germ of an idea that they want to flesh out and turn into a prototype that can form the basis of future work. Looks like you may be in the latter group. If so, then consider these questions when designing your pitch.

  • What is the problem you want to solve? Try to be specific because software has limitations when the scope is big.
  • How are you solving this problem? In other words, what are the main components of your solution/idea?
  • Is this a new idea that you want to shape up during the hackathon, or have you already done some work on it and you’re looking for help to take you to the next stage?
  • What kind of help do you need from your team?

Q. Will there be software developers and other people that can assist?

A. People with a broad range of skills are registering for the hackathon. Each group that forms should have a software developer, someone clinical, someone with experience as a patient (and who has not had clinical training) and someone with business savvy. People in all these categories are registering to either work in groups or be mentors. You’ll have a lot of resources available to you in the people who are attending.

Q. How much development is possible during that weekend?

A. It depends on what you want to achieve. I expect a lot of brainstorming will happen in the first part of the weekend and then people will tackle the task of coming up with something to present to the judges on the Sunday.

Q. What happens to the ideas once the weekend ends?

A. There are thee answers to this question.

  • Once a group has formed, the members can decide if they want to/are able to continue working on the group’s project and bring it to fruition some time after the hackathon. In other words, if your group members want to continue working on your idea well into the future then you’re a winner.
  • Intellectual property will need to be discussed by your group sooner rather than later if you’re planning on commercialising your group’s work. Check out the hackathon terms and conditions.  They will form the basis of the group work during the hackathon. You’ll need to revisit this approach if you want to commercialise the intellectual property after the hackathon.
  • We are expecting entrepreneurs and possibly some angel funders to cruise around the hackathon with a view to spotting ideas that have commercial potential. You may want to meet up with one of them to discuss the potential of your idea. How do you spot these people? If they don’t approach your group as mentors, then I could introduce to you the people whom I know are likely to answer your questions.

Q. I can’t write computer software but I do know a lot about health issues that don’t go away. Is there a place for me at the hackathon?

A. Absolutely yes! As you prepare for the hackathon weekend, think about how you will tell people about your skills so that they will find it easy to find a group to join.

Q. What if someone else pitches an idea similar to mine before I get a chance?

A: Everyone gets a turn to pitch their idea. If you want to join up with the other person or they want to join up with you, then go ahead. If you want to work separately and compete with one another, well, that’s the spirit of a hackathon.

Q. How do I volunteer to join a group if I don’t have an idea to pitch?

A: After the ideas have been pitched on Friday people will be invited to join groups. Just walk over to the person whose group you want to join.

Q. What is a good size for a group to work well?

A: By definition a group is three or more people. People work best in groups of four to eight. More than that is a crowd.

Q. What are the judging criteria?

A. Each team’s idea will be judged on four criteria: clinical appropriateness and accuracy, consumer needs, software design, and commercial potential.

Q. How do we present our team’s work on the Sunday for the judges?

A. Presentation time = 3 minutes per team. Presentation format = up to 3 Powerpoint (or equivalent) slides. You can choose how you do the presentation – one talking head, a group singing a song, rap it out, a video, the best way your group can present your work. Have fun! After you’ve done your presentations the judges will determine a winner. We will record your presentations and put them on the HiNZ website for a month to collect the ‘People’s Vote’ and determine the ‘People’s Winner’.

Q. Tell me about the Peoples Vote

A. On the Sunday you will present your team’s work to the judges. We will make a video recording of your presentations and put them on the HiNZ website with a voting button for people to vote in the month after the hackathon. On 14 March we will announce the Peoples Winner. At this stage there is no prize. If you want to offer a prize of money or mentoring or help with a start-up business or angel funding, please get in touch with Kim Mundell at HiNZ at kim@hinz.org.nz.

Q. Can I change groups during the weekend?

A: Yes. Be mindful that once the first brainstorm session has happened for a group, the dynamics shift into get-on-with-it-mode and people find it more difficult to change groups or accept a new group member. If you move into another group that already has more than four people, you will find it harder to join in. Be respectful of the group’s dynamic (the leaving group and the joining group) and find meaningful ways to contribute. Avoid being a spectator or prize chaser.

Q. What if we don’t have all the skills we need in our group?

A: There will be mentors and experts coming and going throughout the weekend. They will be tagged as such and will come around and see how you’re doing. Save up your questions if you can until someone comes around. Alternatively ask Karen Day to point out anyone who is available to answer your questions.

Q. What spaces are available for us to work in?

A. There are ‘break-out’ rooms behind the cafe with enough space for a group of 8 to work in each room. Alternatively, you can buy a beverage at the cafe and work at one of the tables. Or you can work in the main room where the food is. If you feel like stretching out on a couch and working in the Atrium for a while, help yourself. In other words, there are lots of different places on Level 2 for you to move around and work in. Be mindful of the needs of others if your group gets animated and noisy about something.

Q. What devices will we use?

A. You should bring your own devices. There are power points for you to plug in your devices and use them. Make sure that the wiring is safe – no exposed wires allowed! You can bring along a desktop computer and monitor, a tablet, or smart phone or any other device you need for your group’s work.

Q. I will need to use the Internet…..

A. There will be wifi access to the Internet in all the work spaces provided. You will be given a guest logon and password when you arrive, much like when you attend a conference.

Q. I would like to donate some funding to cover costs you may have. How do I go about doing that?

A. Although registration is free, and the venue and some other aspects of organising the hackathon have been donated according to what I call a ‘Goodwill Budget’ we need to cover the cost of some catering and cleaning. Please email Kim Mundell, CEO of HiNZ at kim@hinz.org.nz to organise payment of your donation and a tax receipt.

Q. Is food & coffee provided for participants?

A. There will be a few light refreshments provided for free but as you don’t have to pay anything to attend, we don’t have enough budget to provide you with a full conference buffet. A cafe will be open at the venue for you to buy barista coffee, tea, juices and cafe meals. You are also welcome to bring along your own snacks from home if you prefer.

Q. I can’t attend the whole weekend but would still like to participate in the hackathon.

A. You’re welcome to join us for any time that you are able to devote to the hackathon. You can come along as a part time team member (being mindful of team dynamics and how best to contribute to the team) and/or as a mentor for a few hours or a day or more.

Q. Sometimes a person needs to take a break. Where can I go?

A. If you or your team want to leave the building for a break for lunch or to chat about something over a beer (or wine or poison of your choice) there are cafes in the surrounding areas. Pop the address into your wayfinding app on your phone (261 Morrin Road, St Johns, Auckland) and check out the places that are available. If you prefer to get your own food, there is a Countdown across the road from the venue. Check in College Road, Apirana Road, Lunn Road, and all the way out to Mission Bay and St Helliers or even in the city if you want to drift that far out.

Q. Will I be able to bring alcohol to the venue?

A. No, we don’t have permission to have alcohol at the venue. If you’re busting for something, then slope off to the Stonefields Speights Alehouse, about a 10 minute walk away. There are other places a short drive away in Lunn Avenue as well.

Q. How do I know you’ve accepted me as a mentor?

A. You will receive a confirming email.

Q. Can I work in a team and also be mentor to other teams?

A. Yes. The spirit of the hackathon is an openness to collaborative creativity, similar to the spirit of ubuntu that is well known about open source software. Read the terms and conditions of registration again. Help one another. We’re in this together.

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