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NHS Hack Scotland

And now for something completely different…

Yesterday and today, along with Jonathan Riddell, I have been lucky and honoured to be a judge at the inaugural NHS Hack Scotland. This is an event which puts programmers and designers in the same room as staff from the NHS that have real problems to be solved with technology. This event is a replica of similar events that have recently been held in London and Liverpool.

There are roughly 40 folk taking part in the event, split into about 8 projects of various sizes.  I will report more on the actual projects later: they range between a mobile app that allows people with anxiety disorders to record their SUDS levels to an application that will assign the most appropriate ambulance to emergency cases (can you believe such a thing does not already exist)! There is obviously only so much that can be achieved in only two days, but the focus is very much on producing software that does something to show off the potential for the technology and this form of collaborative development.

In many respects this reminds me of the CommunesPlone project that I was somewhat involved with when I was working or Zope Europe Association.

The event is being held at the Techcube startup incubator in Edinburgh and will run until 5pm today. So, if you are in the area, you should drop by and take a look at what is going on… Maybe even take on a new pet project?

Jonathan and I are spending the day getting to know the teams and their projects before judging begins in earnest this afternoon. Of course, we are interested in how much of an impact the project will have on patient care or on making staff members’ lives easier. Moreover, we are looking into longevity… Have these teams, from day 1, built into their project the kind of Free Software ethos that will help ensure sustainability of the project beyond the weekend? Because it is all very well producing something sexy for the NHS this weekend, but that is no good if the project is dead tomorrow.

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