AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Hack the house: Social housing hackathon

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Disruptive Innovators Network (DIN) hosted the first competitive social housing hackathon this past May in London. Four UK housing associations – including Great Places, Places for People and Metropolitan Thames Valley – were teamed with members of the AWS Partner Network (APN), and had 36 hours to analyse one of four housing problems and hack a solution.

Each of the four associations asked the participants to hack a specific problem. The four challenges focused on solving how to:

  1. Leverage intelligent communications in new environments
  2. Manage and identify at-risk tenancies
  3. Create heathier homes
  4. Re-imagine service charges – a key challenge across the social housing sector

Inside the Hackathon

The four UK housing associations were matched with APN members, assigned a specific challenge to hack, and asked to use Amazon’s “Working Backwards” process to work through their problem.

In response to the challenge of communications, AWS partner Arcus Global created an artificial intelligence-driven internal communications system, which used Amazon Connect and Lex – AWS’s conversational bot. The hack broke down informational silos and enabled users to quickly connect resources and people using voice assistance.

AWS Partners BJSS and PA Consulting created “Profile, Predict, Prevent” for housing association Great Places. The risk profiling solution utilised data lake technology to pool and categorise tenancy data into a single location, then used the machine learning (ML) capability of Amazon SageMaker to create a predictive traffic light system (red, amber, green) to assess tenancy risk.

The team, including housing association Places for People, pitched a new suite of “Smart Home” technology, which brought together multiple smart home use cases into one central AWS Internet of Things (IoT) architecture. This was designed to support independent living and the changing needs of tenants in the future. As part of this solution, Digital Catapult helped design a new solution that leveraged the AWS Marketplace as a community for further smart home products and services.

Addressing the challenge of service charges, Metropolitan Thames Valley worked alongside AWS Partner Cloudwick to create a new customer portal that provides leaseholders with a new visual and interactive display of their service charge account data. The solution offered a new way to present data to customers – from what data is presented to how it is detailed, helping decrease user confusion.

Participant “hackers” from APN partners included teams from: Arcus Global, BJSS, Cloudwick, and PA Consulting, with Digital Catapult also supporting the event.

The AWS team is committed to enabling more collaboration between our APN Partners and AWS customers. We will be running a series of hackathons, co-hosted by various nonprofit organizations, similar to our annual Nonprofit Hackathon hosted at re:Invent.

Stay tuned to the AWS Public Sector Blog for information about the next hackathon!