A Hackathon that changed the world.

I was part of what I think is one of the most exciting hackathons around. Hack Cancer, a 24 hour hackathon with the aim of bringing engineers, designers, doctors and cancer patients together, to build world changing products that could aid with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

This was my very first hackathon. Although I was helping organise the event, I had no idea of what to expect. However, the next 24 hours beat any expectation I had of what you could possibly do in such a short period of time.

Helping those effected by Cancer is at the core of what Hack Cancer is about, so we kicked off the event with two inspirational talks from former-cancer patients; Andrew Raynes (Our Founder) and Harry Lehane. Both of them were around to take any questions from hackers, throughout the event, as well as Hunain Shiwani our resident doctor.

After a very hectic morning and a red-bull fuelled evening, it was the day of the results. We were very fortunate to have a great range of judges for our judging panel:

  • Judith Potts, who writes about health and cancer-related issues for the telegraph.
  • Pete Coulter head of Delivery Software Engineering at rentalcars.com
  • James Gadsby Peet Senior Digital Services Manager atCancer Research.
  • Pawel Sawicz evangelist for Just Giving Hackers.

Harry Lehane and Hunain Shiwani also joined our judges panel, so overall we had a great breadth of knowledge and experience. We began the presentations and each team revealed their ideas to the judges.

Over 40 hackers turned up to form 10 teams. We had a diverse range of hackers and this was reflected in the ideas produced. We had one team that attempted to learn a new language on the day and another team that turned up half way through the event. But everyone managed to create something amazing and we were proud of each and everyone of them.

As in hackathon tradition, though, we could only present prizes to a few of the teams involved.

Our winner of the Blue Peter award for most creative use of materials, was Bangour Uni for their automated pill dispenser, ‘Dosette’ (http://hackcancer.crashinfinite.com/). They won this award through their ingenious use of paper plates, plastic cups and a box of tea. Which, in combination with a adrunio board, was able to allow you to scan your medication and have it dispensed for you each morning.

In second place we had Care and Share for their app for sending care packages to people suffering from cancer. Friends and (optionally) general members of the public could buy items from an online store which would be sent to them. The app was also used to track their appointments and medication. In addition to this they could share updates in a safe environment with only the people they want to know about it.

Finally in first place we had Cancer Journal, similar to Care and Share it allowed you to track your appointments and share updates. But it had the addition of allowing patients to upload medical records and files, the patient would then choose which would be shared with viewers of their journal.

I think back to the very beginning and it’s amazing how in just under 11 months we put together the brand, venue, marketing, website, apps and prizes. It feels like a blur and I’m still coming to terms with the fact it’s over. However, I couldn’t be more proud of how the event turned out, in fact, look at these statistics:

  • Over 300 cans of energy drink.
  • 55 full subways (Almost the height of two giraffes)
  • 30 Kilos of Dominos Pizza.
  • Over 5,000 miles travelled (People came from Paris, Barcelona, Manchester and Bangor.)
  • And of course one goal.

I am very proud of the team and how successful the event turned out to be, here is to #HackCancer2016.