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ORM hosts hackathon to revolutionise housing associations

By Olivia Atkins, Branded Content Writer

August 1, 2019 | 3 min read

ORM organised its first People Innovating to Change Housing (PITCH) hackathon in June 2019, at Microsoft’s Reading UK offices.

The purpose of the event was to find fast, collaborative ways to innovate on digital initiatives for housing associations. The idea for the hackathon came from ORM's client, Moat, after finding a gap in the sector for innovation.

Mark Rogers, Moat's director of business transformation, said: “We’d seen similar events that ORM had been part of and thought this was something that could really help our sector. After working collaboratively with ORM on our own digital transformation project, we knew how agile they could work and believed they were the right partner to run a hackathon for housing associations.”

Some 30 people from six different housing associations attended the PITCH event to work on pre-selected challenges that had been set by industry experts. Participants came from Saxon Weald, The Guinness Partnership, Worthing Homes, Paradigm Housing, Home Group and Moat.

Peter Paterson, ORM's director of client engagement said: “Hackathons are perfect for the housing sector, as it allows the industry to come together and work on common issues in a short amount of time. By taking a range of skilled people – from subject matter experts, to developers, designers and strategists – out of their every day role, the teams were able to produce rapid prototypes that solved actual sector problems in just 8 hours, that just wouldn’t happen in their normal environment.”

The event was a huge success; after eight hours of hacking, four teams presented their business cases and prototypes to the panel of judges – made up of senior representatives from Saxon Weald, The Guinness Partnership, Moat and ORM.

Lizzie Lawson, ORM's senior strategist was on the winning team, that created a prototype of an app or widget that allows residents to report on different grounds maintenance issues. Housing associations receive numerous calls a week from residents on issues regarding their estates, often with the same problem being reported multiple times.

Lawson said: “I was honestly a bit apprehensive turning up for the event, as I didn’t think one day was going to be long enough to create anything tangible. Yet, the enthusiasm and determination of my teammates was great to see, and it just goes to show how limited time and the pressure of a hackathon environment gives a focus for creativity and innovation.”


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