This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 05/10/2017.
Why I’m bringing the first major hackathon to Croydon Tech City this Friday
Croydon is the Silicon Valley of South London
Looking for somewhere beyond Cardiff during my post grad time led me looking for a place that offered the same vibe, diversity, digital scene, while being big enough but not too big. You might not think it, but Croydon in many ways is similar to Cardiff in that respect. People talk of Croydon being a great place for tech – it’s true; as it just-so-happened the most exciting job prospect was here, as a Digital Engineering and Technological Applications Consultant at PCSG – arguably the most influential consultancy in the digitalisation of construction.
The Cronx is a great place to work as outside of the working life you’ve got everything on your doorstep. It can be London when you want London (with Victoria 10 minutes away in one direction); it can be the countryside/ beach when you want that (with the likes of Arundale and Brighton only 45ish away); and it can be abroad when you want that (with Gatwick 5/10mins away)
With regards to Croydon’s construction industry per se, that itself probably doesn’t get enough press either. You wouldn’t probably bat an eyelid unless someone told you, but major construction giants that have shifted a lot of their workforce/ relocated here from their London base in recent years include Mott MacDonald, AECOM, Jacobs, and EDF (if you can count them)…
Croydon Tech City has obviously done wonders, their conferences, inspiring the younger generation, and being the catalyst behind major attraction of tech, investment, and talent to the region. I think the tech scene excites me as it shows me that it’s a hub for innovators, out-of-box-thinkers, of which I’m probably one – like minds and all that…
Every great tech ecosystem needs a hackathon
I think the measure of any tech-based region isn’t necessarily what takes place inside of works hours alone, but more what happens outside of normal working hours. It’s obviously good to have people that fill roles, but companies and regions won’t grow without people that fill ambition, and that’s measured more by what they do outside of work. If you look at the likes of Silicon Valley (in the US), hackathons are synonymous with the region, and look at the growth they’ve seen…
Hackathons, derived from ‘hack’, are where technology is repurposed to solve different problems, and ‘marathon’ – it tends to be a weekend-long event where stamina is essential! Originating from the tech industry they have since been adopted by a wide-range of sectors and are responsible for many innovations.
There’s innovation waiting to be unlocked in diversity, and this is one of the things which hackathons are responsible for; that is, bringing together a collective people from all aspects of industry and beyond that wouldn’t necessarily otherwise come into contact – the rest speaks for itself…
Irrespective of industry, hackathons in general tend to follow the same format, i.e. challenges are set prior to the kick-off, people form teams, and then they work towards creating an innovation that resolves that challenge.
Why do I like hackathons? Apart from the innovations, it’s a great reminder of what can be achieved quickly when we remove corporations, politics, and focus our attentions on working together towards a common cause.
Come to the AEC Hackathon this Friday
The global Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Hackathon series was developed by individuals in the Silicon Valley region of California, keen to hasten the pace of technological progress in construction.
Now returning for their third year in the UK, as part of the AEC Hackathon series, it is part of the largest global series of not-for-profit events looking to rapidly prototype tech and ideas, to develop the construction industry, and create positive social outcomes for the built environment. The past year has seen them held in cities including San Francisco, New York, Singapore, and Shanghai.
The event is open to anyone from Civil Engineers, to Software Devs, to College/ Uni students (18y/o or older), UX folk, Investors, and everyone in between and beyond… you don’t even have to be part of the construction industry to take part, just have to have an interest in construction/tech-based skill/s that are transferrable…
Croydon is the largest London borough, currently undergoing the largest regeneration of any location in Europe, as well as seeing the largest tech growth of any UK region – so, there couldn’t be a more apt region for a more apt event…
I would like to see policy makers, planning offers, those that represent the public’s interest in the built environment attend, to show them how the industry is moving from analogue to digital, to show them how there’s no excuse for projects to be delivered overbudget and overtime anymore, and to show them the standards they should be demanding for Croydon from what is a technology-capable industry.
Apart from working with the latest and most exciting tech, meeting like-minds, discovering innovations that people weren’t aware of being possible in construction etc. etc. there’ll also be some neat challenges. A challenge close to me, and one thing I think we can all agree on is that we should prevent the likes of Grenfell from happening again. So, as one of the challenges, let’s see how a combination of those from industry and from further afield can combine with those from tech in response and see how we can prevent a disaster like Grenfell from happening again through tech.
Doors open: 5pm on 06/10/17
Doors close: 5pm on 08/10/17
Webpage for more info and registration: aechackathon.com/london-3/