I was honoured to be selected to participate in Hack Train 2.0 in the UK last month. This 48-hour 'hackathon' challenged 30 teams of (mostly!) young sofware developers, designers and entrepreneurs to come up with solutions to real and current problems in the UK rail systems.
Key train operating companies like Virgin Trains East Coast, First Great Western and Chiltern Trains shared their most serious challenges. Industry partners such as Silverrail (owner of the ). The UK Department for Transport and Network Rail supported the event and joined in the judging duties.
A key element of a hackathon is that teams are judged not on concept or plans, but on presentation of functioning software. For me, the highlight was the ability of the software developers to pull together functioning systems with access to live data; by the ability of the graphic designers to create applications that looked as polished as any application available on the main app stores.
A closing memory from the final judging was the sight of the teams literally jumping up and down in their enthusiasm as they pitched their concepts. The challenge that I have taken away is how to bring this phenomenal productivity and enthusiasm into the more traditional areas of railway system development.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!