This morning, I was excited to see a diverse crowd at Microsoft Building #20, specifically noting the percentage of women was visibly above the usual less than 20 percent female/male ratio at a hackathon event. This was my first Democracy Lab hackathon.
This hackathon followed a general format, of an opening, guest speaker, non-profits pitching their projects, followed by teams forming , a flurry of project planning and teams sprinting to the finish line. I joined the Caerusly project team; Caerusly uses data science and AI to help small businesses win government contracts. We did have a Scrum Master named Jackie assigned to our team to keep the five of us on track. Not an easy task.
Our Statement of Work for the day was to determine the project’s essential tech list items and focus on key tasks: design and structure a database to receive data in different formats and file types and convert them into a consistent format. Plus, determine storage needs and define required data inputs from APIs. This project cannot be completed in a day, it will progress in stages. Creating a design for a MVP presentation to investors; testing all elements of the design, including the branding, design, functionality, and usability was a challenge.
The current government contracting process is antiquated, fragmented, and labor intensive. The government agencies are receiving fewer bids which translates to higher costs to the public. At the end of the day, our team of five accomplished these tasks and provided input for a vendor survey for a government bidding process. There is still work ahead for Caerusly. The owners are closer to their next goal, pitching Caerusly to investors next week, on a solid platform.
At the end of the day, all the teams showcased their accomplishments. Goodwill was created, ideas generated and technical tools were created. A day of community in the civic area, developing professional connections and the sun was shining. This event was successful due to people working together, teaching others and sharing resources. Thank you to the sponsors: Microsoft, Reactor, Textio and Bellwether.