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Hackathon for Homelessness: What we built in 48 hrs

What we think.

Hackathon for Homelessness: What we built in 48 hrs

Media release: Get it here

It was a busy weekend for Zeroseven. The entire office came together for a Hackathon for Homelessness, a two-day event in partnership with Micah Projects and the Brisbane Alliance to End Homelessness, to build a platform for the Brisbane Zero campaign. (Create an entire website in 2 days? Sure!)

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Brisbane Zero is all about using, real-time data to track rough sleepers and connect them with the housing support and services they need, with the goal of ending street homelesssness in three years. No website currently exists to communicate what the campaign is all about, and that’s where Zeroseven  stepped in to lend a hand.

The event kicked off with an introduction from Karyn Walsh, CEO of Micah Projects, who gave an inspiring overview of what achieving functional zero street homelessness means, and why this website is so important.

“People become trapped in homelessness for many years. For us, getting to zero means that homelessness is rare, brief and nonrecurring. This website is such a great gift to us, because it combines the data with communication to help spread awareness. This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time.” said Karyn.

With the momentum going and the caffeine flowing, we divided into four teams: Site Structure, Data, Services and Editorial Content.

The Site Structure team was responsible for the overall build of the site – this team had some pretty important decisions to make about what the navigation was going to be and how the Umbraco CMS would integrate with the site.

The Data team was responsible for looking at the best way to display the numbers – looking at chart designs and mapping out content entry so that all the data structures were  in place, ready for the numbers to be entered.

The Services team looked at how to display all of the available housing and street services for the homeless. This was a key component of the website because it helps organisations understand which services are available and where to direct those in need, something that “became especially apparent during COVID-19, when nobody knew when services were open and functioning”, according to Karyn.

And finally, the Editorial Content team, led by The Content Division, was responsible for filling in all of the on-page components, including the homepage, details about the campaign, profiles of people and their situations, and all other remaining pages.

A Kanban board was set up with tickets to monitor the progress of each stage and, once everyone was nominated into a group, the hackathon officially began. (Oh, and did we mention our awesome custom-made t-shirts?)

Some real progress was made by lunchtime. The navigation structure was determined (with an extremely efficient meeting!), basic UI components (buttons and heading styles) were completed and the homepage copy was drafted.

By the end of the first day, most of the groundwork was completed and we had a fully fleshed out, clickable website. The street services were designed as a recurring weekly calendar format with colour-coded categories, making it easy to view what services are on and where.

Responsive functionality was tested and and all the forms were integrating efficiently. The page content components were also built out – accordions, charts, call-to-action buttons, quotes, videos etc – making the page editing as simple as possible for the Brisbane Zero team to add content ongoing.

Everyone was super pumped with the progress made on Day 1, and after a team debrief and morale check, we were enticed to return the second day with promises of coffee, and bacon and egg rolls.

Everyone put in a massive effort and by the end of the second day, the website was 90% complete. As is the case with building new platforms, further functionality testing was needed, which meant the site couldn’t quite go live at the end of Day 2.

After a break and a Sunday rest, the team finished up testing the final elements in the office and the new site officially went live on 12 August.

The hackathon demonstrated that when project teams come together and work towards a mutual goal, great milestones can be achieved in a short amount of time.

“It was great to see the whole company coming together to achieve a huge project, one that really makes a difference.” said Chris Thompson, Technical Lead and Managing Director of Zeroseven. “Coming together in this way and having both Micah Projects and the content team with us from the get go was excellent. There were some really good discussions, great learnings and it made me think about ways to improve some of our processes”.

Zeroseven Director of Client Services Elizabeth Gibbons agreed. “I’m really impressed with how the event went. Admittedly I was a little nervous in the beginning, but it’s gone really  well and I’m so proud of how the the team came together.”

And what do Brisbane Zero think about their new website? “We’re thrilled. It looks fantastic.” said Karyn. “Thank you all for your enormous support and generous contribution.”

Check out the website and follow the campaign at