In a tech company 3 days are nothing. Some companies need 3 days to test, fix and release their new app release. At Immobilienscout24 3 days are 1/3 of a sprint in most teams, barely enough to get ideas done worth no more than 3 to 10 story points.
But for a non-profit or NGO 3 days with experienced engineers can mean everything. Now that Social Hack Days, the 2017-Q1 Hack Days at Immobilienscout24, are over I want to take a look back at four of the things our engineers have been hacking on for a good cause.
konfetti is a volunteer project from and with refugees aiming to connect people in the neighbourhood over interesting projects they can do together. Started already in 2015, Christian of konfetti joined a few of our engineers to bring https://github.com/rootzoll/konfetti-app to launch-ready.
Working in shifts in a hospital and being a caring parent is hard, especially for single parents. Since 2006 KidsMobil have been providing flexible child care for parents working in health care. One of the biggest challenges of the network is to bring together parents in need and the childminders of KidsMobil at short notice. Some of our engineers joined them to evaluate solutions to schedule time slots for child care for a staff. While intuitively something like a shared calendar app should bring immediate relief, the individual requirements for functionality and also data protection laws of German health care would call for something more appropriate. The team settled for a self-hosted solution which will need additional time. They will continue their work on the Social Day in summer and hope to manage a roll-out for the team at KidsMobil until then.
Immobilienscout24 ♥ Arabic
In the last year, hundreds of thousands of refugees have arrived in Germany. But if you do not speak German a mostly-German marketplace like Immobilienscout24 can prove a hurdle to find a place to live. To address this, a team of mobile engineers took Hack Days as a chance and translated our iOS and Android apps to Arabic. What sounds like just replacing a few words is much harder in Arabic, as Arabs (like others) are reading from right to left. Thus, the team had to find ways to rebuild the whole app interface to flow from right to left in Arabic. The content is still mostly in German, though, so there is still a need for translation tools. But at least, our apps are no hurdle anymore for Arabs seeking a new home in Germany.
Reading is hard. According to PISA and OECD studies, 14.5% of 15-year-old German students have little or very little reading capability. And if the German grown-ups even 7.5 million are functionally illiterate, according to the 2011 LEO study. Still, literacy is required to participate in modern society. Which is why Stiftung Lesen is engaged in the promotion of reading. bringing together people reading with people who have trouble reading. To help the foundation, a team of Scout24 engineers built a website to aggregate and index the different sites of Stiftung Lesen to download reading material. Additionally, they worked on a concept for Stiftung Lesen’s Netzwerk Vorlesen to bring together readers and listeners for actual reading, which the foundation can use as a blueprint to build something later.
Social Hack Days have been the first time we have been hacking together with non-profits and NGOs. While people could still hack on their own ideas, we are very proud that three teams formed around these big challenges. One thing we learned is that when working with externals, your hack will be much more like a traditional project instead of just hacking away on something that you love. People enjoyed being able to be give back. Thus, this has been definitely a worth-while iteration of Hack Days.