Last weekend we faced the challenge to Hack the Port of Antwerp #LOTFA16
12 young volunteers of Elision and a sister company chose to spend their entire weekend with me and represent their company in an attempt to improve the port of Antwerp. This dedication alone is worth a lot of appreciation!
Prior to the event we had several group sessions to analyze all the challenges and create a battle plan. Based on prior experiences with maritime data we knew where the core weaknesses lay. Overall data was fragmented, inconsistent and hard to consolidate. The do-gooder in all of us became dedicated to solve this once and for all. Blockchain was picked as the weapon of choice to storm the front, an application and reporting team on its flanks.
Arriving at the event we put up camp. After a nice dinner, we chose our team name and registered all players in the local application. From now on we would be known as 99 Problems.
No time to settle, instant action! We were immediately presented the challenges during an opening ceremony. Time for a first pitch. Sania bit the bullet for 99 Problems and climbed the stage. She kicked ass! Presenter ribbon earned!
Multiple challenges were compatible with our blockchain solution but the optimization of container inspection was chosen as an ideal playground for the weekend. The blockchain, app and reporting teams worked as a self-organized entity. Agile experience is showing off here!
Having a direct line with the specialists in the field proved to be invaluable. While we were striving to present a realistic solution, immediately achievable with the current available data and technologies, Jean-Claude from ASX and the rest of the Think4Ward initiative were always there to fill in the gaps. As the solution took form new opportunities presented itself. Data started creating more useful data and by timestamping each action we opened a box of infinite possibilities but even digital explorers need a break once in a while.
Sunday, pitch day! A lot of tiny eyes and sleepy faces. Did we forget to sleep? Checking Confluence confirmed this. Many documents were checked in way after midnight. What a team!
First tip for next time. Don’t pick a team name that starts with a number because it puts you right on top of a sorted list. 99 problems is pitching first!
Sania, Glenn and me have never pitched before. Seeing other teams with dedicated pitchers can be a bit intimidating. 7 minutes to convince a jury. Technical problems with the infrastructure reduced this with a few minutes. Mixed feelings at the end of the pitch. Did we do OK? We’ll hear the result during the end ceremony, in about 3 hours!
To make the waiting game even more nerve wrecking, the teams in the finals are announced in groups of 4 and … we made it to the finals! Ready for the big stage! We have done this before, but not in front of close to 400 people. Team mates and colleagues supporting us from the stands, sweaty palms, shaky intro, Sania picking up the pace, Glenn sounding smooth and comfortable on the microphone. Total time, 6:55! Nice! On with the questions from the jury! We did it. Our first pitch in front of a crowd.
Getting to this point, being selected to pitch in the finals and ending up with a solid solution makes me proud. In the end we didn’t win LOFTA16, but we have all proven what can be achieved with dedication, experience and a lot of team spirit! A big thank you to the entire team!