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Together we can change our world - Access Hack Challenge - Inspirefest 2019

20th May 2019

Each of us has the power to influence positive change in our society and this is true regardless of age, gender or ability. I want more people to realise their true potential and power, which is why I must tell you about what happened at this year’s Inspirefest (2019).

During this amazing event, full of inspirational speakers, innovators and creative thinkers, attendees were invited to take part in a Mini Hack Access challenge. I registered to take part along with 19 other attendees. The competition was facilitated by Hack Access Dublin in partnership with experience-design agency Solvers, with special guests Joanne O’Riordan, advocate and journalist; and Noel Joyce, head of design at Hax in China.

The theme of the challenge was accessibility and the intention was to raise awareness of the problems faced everyday by people of different abilities. I found myself in a team of four other bright-minded individuals including Ricardo Murdillo, Peter Pudaite and 11 year old blogger Ciara of Ciara’s Journey and her mum Melanie.

Our team was set the challenge of train travel.

People who use wheel-chairs are currently required to give 24 hours notice to Irish Rail before they can take a train journey. Our team had to come up with a solution that could alleviate this restriction and inconvenience.

I've taken part in one or two community think-tanks in the past but this was different. We were provided with templates to assist in the process of problem-solving and design-thinking and our friends from Solvers and Hack Access were on stand-by to guide us.

We started by putting ourselves in the shoes of wheel-chair users, to consider the challenges they face when they want to travel by train. Because of the amazing speakers at Inspirefest we were more aware that people who use wheelchairs may face additional accessibility issues, for example, some may have no arms or some may be blind.

Imagine a person who uses a wheel-chair being invited to speak at a prestigious event at short notice (where they also in line to receive an award) and not being able to get there because of a restriction that requires 24 hour notice to the railway company.

Passionate about creating a solution to make this person's journey a lot simpler, affording them their independence, flexibility and dignity, our group were soon buzzing with ideas. Mad ideas are essential to the process of design thinking and problem-solving, as the lead us to the core of the solution. Many mad ideas later we had the basis of an idea that we thought could help our user.

Together we can change our world
Hack Access Challenge Inspirefest

We envisaged a robotic navigational platform that could be accessed at a designated area in a train station, similar to the set-up of Dublin Bikes. A leap card or voice-command could be used to activate and mount the robotic platform by wheelchair. Once activated this way, the platform would have the details of our user's destination and send instructions for a corresponding robotic platform to be in place to on arrival the travellers next destination.

Our navigational platform stole from the existing technology of Tesla’s self-driving cars. Since Tesla’s technology has been deemed safe for road use, it should be no different to have a self-driving device in a train station. Our user could be taken safely to the point where they could access the train by means of an automated ramp extending from the navigational platform to the train, at a section of the train where they would have the most comfort for their journey.

We were asked to return the next day at the same time, to refine our idea and prepare a presentation to pitch before an audience during a break-out session at Inspirefest. Four teams pitched their solutions to different access challenges, a winner was announced at the end. My team couldn’t make it on Day 2, so it was up to me to follow through on our goal. Imagine the excitement when it was announced that our team's idea was the winning one.

I was invited onto the main stage of the Bord Gais theatre, where Eamon Doyle CTO of Solvers announced our idea to an audience of 3,000 people. It was with great pride that I accepted the prize on behalf of my dynamic team.

Hack Access Challenge Inspirefest

Solvers works on a concept attributed to Albert Einstein that says you will spend an hour solving a problem: 59 minutes defining and figuring out the problem, and one minute actually solving it. This hack was an hour of condensed problem-solving and Albert Einstein was bang-on.

Our team were later invited to attend Hack Access Dublin in Dogpatch Labs on 5th of June, to present our hack access solution to a community group of problem-solvers, dedicated to people empowerment.

Solvers CEO Kirk Donohoe announced that their company will help us to bring our idea further along. My friends from Able Hour on Twitter to took part in the discussions to help refine the practicalities of our proposed solution to the issue of 24 hour notice prior to train travel.

We were a team of diverse individuals of different backgrounds, gender and age who had never met before and yet we brought our individuality and creative thinking together to solve an every-day problem for members of our society. Together we CAN make our world a better place for all.

Thanks to Darragh Doyle and the team at Inspirefest for the invitation to attend this fantastic event as a blogger. Events like Inspirefest (Future Human) are ideal for meeting like minded people and being inspired by stories of innovation and achievement.

I'm dedicated to helping people who want to achieve their own goals and bring meaning to their lives. This often requires a process of identifying and acknowledging the obstacles and creating paths to success. Because of my journey of transformation I'm experienced at navigating those challenges and the mind traps can throw your off your track. Consider my online course and personal coaching service to help you achieve your goals or get inspiration by joining Authentic Path Explorers.

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Transforming your life is possible at any age, my own journey is a testimony to that. I believe authenticity and wellness are intrinsic to success in all areas of life. It takes courage and passion and they are within you, waiting to for the spark to set them alive. When you read my posts I hope you will get sense of my capacity to help you to succeed with your dreams and goals. Check out my books, online courses and personal wellness programmes designed to guide you towards the most powerful authentic version of yourself. Learn more about my journey here.

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