Bendigo Inventor Awards hackathon event Hack for Humanity aims to help emergency services

Bendigo Inventor Awards program director David Hughes, Bendigo SES deputy controller Natalie Stanway and La Trobe University's Bendigo head of campus Rob Stephenson are looking forward to what might come out of the Hack for Humanity.
Bendigo Inventor Awards program director David Hughes, Bendigo SES deputy controller Natalie Stanway and La Trobe University's Bendigo head of campus Rob Stephenson are looking forward to what might come out of the Hack for Humanity.

Finding innovative ways to address problems faced by emergency services and disaster management organisations will be the focus of the inaugural Hack for Humanity.

The hackathon event, part of the Bendigo Inventor Awards program, will bring together people from a variety of fields such as technology, business and marketing, along with secondary school and university students, to brainstorm technology-based solutions to several issues.

The problems are those experienced by the SES, Australian Red Cross, CFA and the hospital emergency department.

The SES has put forward three problems, one being that prescription safety goggles often fog up, affecting the abilities and potential safety of the wearer in an emergency situation.

Bendigo SES deputy controller Natalie Stanway said the organisation also wanted participants to delve into the use of augmented reality in conveying flood warnings, to better help those affected understand risks and how they could prepare.

The SES is also interested in the possibility of being able to use smartphones on the job to instantly view the schematics of vehicles involved in crashes.

Ms Stanway said volunteers needed to know such information as the location of airbags and seatbelt points before being able to use tools to make a rescue, and this was something that could be made quicker and easier with technology.

La Trobe University’s head of campus in Bendigo, Rob Stephenson, said the hackathon was a good platform by which the university could involve its students with the community, and expose them to real-life experience and potential future employers.

Senior paramedicine lecturer Susan Furness added that it promoted creative thinking and collaboration.

Bendigo Inventor Awards program director David Hughes said that since Be.Bendigo had taken on the awards, it wanted to widen the event’s scope and champion inventors, facilitate the sharing of ideas and knowledge, and promote collaboration.

Mr Hughes said hackathons were perceived as being for “tech-heads”, but skills from a wide range of areas were needed.

Emergency services and disaster relief were the theme of the 2015 Bendigo Inventor Awards program, and Mr Hughes said the response to that was so impressive, it was decided to make it the focus of the awards.

The Hack for Humanity is open to anyone and participants do not need any prior knowledge or experience to enter.

The hackathon will take place on September 25 and 26, with the event to culminate with teams pitching their ideas to a panel of judges.

Winners will gain access to the La Trobe Accelerator program, which provides support to start-ups.

Registrations close Friday, September 15. For more information or to register, visit the Bendigo Inventor Awards website.