Create transformative innovation

Filled with promise

  • Professional teams with diverse technical expertise produce real-world fixes for pressing problems
  • Four partnering not-for-profit organisations are excited about rapidly prototyped potential solutions to specific issues
  • The Summer Foundation is hopeful of offering young people with disabilities sophisticated technology to allow them greater autonomy in their own homes.

Sometimes very smart results are born out of very fast projects. That’s the lesson that emerged from last year’s Fast Solution Hub at Vantage™, Telstra’s annual landmark business event experience that enables customers to connect, collaborate and create.

Exhibiting many of the classic characteristics of a hackathon, where programmers, designers and developers collaborate intensively to create solutions to specific issues. In this case four not-for profit organisations partnered with four small teams of Telstra developers and business analysts to develop prototypes to real-world problems – rapidly.

Filled with promise

According to Telstra’s director of technology strategy and innovation, Ben Spincer, all four teams set out to solve very different problems. The World Vision team examined new ways to engage potential supporters in shopping centres, Camp Australia sought a better way of digitising and tracking online the young charges in its after-school care, and the Windermere Group wanted to improve the way parents of autistic children track development milestones.

But perhaps the most complex and novel solution emerged from the group partnered with the Summer Foundation, which works with disabled youth.

We wanted to look at how we might be able to use technology to monitor a person’s activity levels and particularly their risk of falls in their homes.

– Libby Callaway, Summer Foundation research manager

Expansive expertise

Summer Foundation research manager Libby Callaway says the most striking aspect of the experience was that it brought together a group of people with very different expertise who quickly delivered an interdisciplinary approach to the use of technology for people with disabilities.

Callaway described her organisation’s three goals: conducting research into young people with disabilities and the support they need to live in the community; to raise awareness of the issue in the community; and to demonstrate models of housing that can be alternatives for people living with disabilities who may otherwise be placed in aged care.

It was towards this third goal that the Fast Solutions Hub team directed its energies.

Sophisticated solution

“We told them we wanted to do two things in research and housing with young people with disability,” Callaway says. “We wanted to measure how people move around in their homes, what spaces they used and didn’t use and we wanted to look at how we might be able to use technology to monitor a person’s activity levels and particularly their risk of falls in their homes.”

The solution the team of four Telstra staff and Callaway arrived at was to popular gaming hardware movement sensors and heat mapping to track the movement of people in their homes.

“Telstra also developed a prototype that employed height monitoring and activity monitoring, and married this to text messaging to send alerts to a nominated phone if the data suggested the possibility of a fall,” Callaway says.

Real-world results

Importantly, the work of the Fast Solutions Hub team now has real-world consequences. “While we are still in the development phase, we are about to test the indoor-mobility tracking in a new model of housing built by a government agency,” Callaway says.

The next step for the Summer Foundation is to test the sensors and back-end technology that Telstra has developed to carry out a post-occupancy study of how people with disabilities are moving around in their homes. “We are still working on the fall-monitoring technology but that will be the next step,” Callaway says.

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