Hacking a Community at TechFest 2017


By Craig Tanyanyiwa

When I looked at the TechFest events schedule the first activity really puzzled me, like community hacks. The hacking that comes into mind is based on those spy movies that are frequently played on TV. The type of spying Edward Snowden blew the whistle on, so how could this happen at such a public event and how could people opt into it?

It turns out I was completely wrong, community hacks are not the James Bond type of sessions but rather forums which seek to solve problems that communities face and in this particular instance, the business community. More often than not, the solution to a problem is right in your face but because you have been looking at this from this close-up angle you fail to see it. This is where community hacks come in – they bring in people with fresh ideas and perspectives.

A community hack team is basically comprised of a developer, an innovator (someone who comes up with ways to solve problems through the application of different fields), an entrepreneur and a typical customer or resident. Together they solve the set of problems brought before them. The developer’s main task is to create algorithms and code that will test and simulate if a suggested programme or solution will run. It is mostly up to the team to actually think of all possible situations and solutions and weigh the pros and cons of each.

According to one of participants, Trycolyn Pikirayi, “events like these unlock your potential, and challenge your analysis skills whilst helping you become a better team player as we work in groups.” When asked what she gained, she alluded to the aforementioned aspect of being a team player and also the new relations that she formed with people who had previously been strangers and would probably have never met.

This is the beauty of such events. I have grown to appreciate how a Tech event makes you a better person and expands your network in ways you could never anticipate. I mean, where else do you engineers, biochemists, software developers and accountants in one setting, discussing the same issues without one party overshadowing the other? Community Hack might just be the tool we need to solve some of the problems that are plaguing our country because these are ideas and solutions derived without politics but instead, derived from intelligence and tested by science.

I am glad I attended this event and learnt more about this previously alien idea. Maybe I might just have my own community hack to deal with problems in my community or join a group as the festival continues. What I know for sure is TechFest is changing the game and Bulawayo will surely benefit from it.

So if you have some time to spare and are willing to learn and re-learn, make your way to the Festival and see the spectacle of #BulawayoRising. TechFest ends on the 4th of March 2017.


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