Six young software developers at their first hackathon took home the second-place win at YYC Hacks 2022 this past weekend. Hosted at Platform Calgary in the Calgary downtown area, the theme for the hackathon was downtown revitalization. Its purpose was to promote coding and software development as a rewarding and attractive career. YYC Hub was formed around the central idea of making an interactive map for downtown Calgary. The idea was initially pitched to the whole event on the first day by team member Dele Oyelese, and those interested formed the team. As the competition progressed, the project idea turned from a fully developed app to a frontend MVP (Minimum Viable Product). In the end, they leaned in very heavily on Anna Bilik’s UI/UX background to help turn their ideas into something visual to be presented.
YYC Hub focused on the hyper-local aspect of targeting a single high-rise hub while curating updated event and experience info for venues within walking distance. The interactive map could be attached to a specific location app or website, allowing them to update the residents on what is happening. The team’s goal once implemented is to expand to additional buildings and eventually encompass the whole downtown core area. With this, the downtown community can be developed and cultivated for every Calgarian.
As the visual designer of the product, Anna Bilik incorporated original photography and designs to make the YYC Hub team project their own. “The logo was fully custom during the weekend and presents downtown Calgary with main bridges coming into downtown. The use of bridges is meant to represent the community coming together towards downtown and the connection they share through the location.” Anna writes. “The app is based on accessibility and UX principles. We wanted the design to be clean, not too busy, yet aesthetically pleasing.”
Their team felt that the revitalization of downtown starts with shifting the isolating culture the recent pandemic has created, starting with addressing the problem from inside the downtown core and working outwards. When targeting downtown residents by informing them about all the fantastic things happening in their neighbourhood and helping foster a sense of community, they hope to draw more people out of their buildings. These events can reverse the isolated culture and create inertia for the rest of the city to get involved.
When we further develop and rejuvenate the downtown community, it impacts the rest of the city. Hackathons can inspire those with creative ideas, who may need a push in the right direction. YYC Hacks had a theme of downtown revitalization but there are many more ways that software developers and coders can improve the city. “What we enjoyed most was the sense of community an event like this fosters within tech. All of us are new to the industry, and it is easy to feel like an outsider and suffer from imposter syndrome. Still, this hackathon helped us all feel like we belong.” Dele writes.
YYC Hacks 2022 provided the YYC Hub team with an opportunity, as well as other hackathon participants, to create something valuable. This hackathon inspired a product that has the potential to help out lots of Calgarians. Their team got to make connections, learn new skills and create a valuable product. Downtown revitalization is now more accessible and achievable for the community than ever, all thanks to YYC Hacks. “Even amongst our team, only two people had met each other before the event, and we were able to work together to achieve a common goal and have fun along the way. It attests to the open arms the tech community has to anyone who wants to get involved.”