The latest research on The Future of Work indicates that almost half of current workforce activities have the potential to be automated with today’s robotics and artificial intelligence technologies. The most automatable jobs in industries such as accommodation and food services, manufacturing and retail trade are those occupied by some of the most vulnerable in our communities including migrant workers, youth, low-income households and the ageing.Portrait

A hackathon programme featuring meetups, big, bold idea sessions and a capstone weekend-long hackathon on October 13-15 here at Impact Hub Ottawa will be applying creativity, coding, design, and data visualization skills to:

1) Identify, monitor and forecast the forces that are driving workforce changes, which workers will be impacted and how; and

2) Develop tech-based solutions to help the most at-risk and vulnerable workers in our community through these transitions (up-skilling, re-skilling, entrepreneurship etc.).

Our Hubber Lisa Deacon is co-lead of the Datafest and one of the organisers of The Future of Work, we caught up with her to find out more about the event.


How did you come to be involved in Datafest?

A few years ago I was working in the social change/charitable sector and at the time it felt like our sector was lagging in innovation – perhaps slower than others to adopt new approaches, tools and technologies. I wanted to do something about that. By fate I met my Co-Lead Louisa Taylor who was exploring the idea of hackathons and how they can help a diverse group of people take on familiar challenges in new ways. We’ve had the honour of applying this approach in various sectors including immigration and settlement, homelessness, and now for workers whose jobs are vulnerable to automation in the future of work.


What are you hoping to achieve with this Hackathon?

#HackFoW is a biggie, we’re really excited. Half of workforce activities are vulnerable to automation today. We feel urgency to identify and build tools to support workers who will be affected. We need to know which jobs and sectors this shift will impact and how, and we need to find ways to make sure that people are not left out economically, nor socially. Work is such a big part of identity in our culture. It’s imperative that people still have the opportunity to contribute and belong in their communities even if their employment status changes. Gig economy, universal basic income and identifying trends to help workers and youth navigate the best avenues for skills development are all on the table.


Why did you choose the Hackathon format?

We have designed a hackathon programme that launched in mid-September with a design-thinking big, bold ideas session. We’re building up to a hackathon rather than diving right in so that the programme is most likely to have sustainable impactful. Hackathons are a great way to bring together the tech community but also subject matter experts and end-users to build things that can really make a difference. As with any hackathon, as we (Datafest Ottawa) engage new partners we’re excited to showcase how innovation sprints can deliver sustainable change in the social and charitable sectors (and what their limitations are as well). It has always been an important part of our mandate to be inclusive to people for whom this concept is very new, and maybe a little scary.


Who should join the Hackathon?

The hack will be software and data viz heavy. If you’re interested in the theme and have design, coding or data skills we definitely hope you can join! We’ll have energetic and passionate subject matter experts pitching and repping on each team, and of course food and fun is provided all weekend long!

Find the full details and registration here.