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Computer programmers of all backgrounds have participated in a 12-hour hackathon as part of the PLACE-EE project.

The PLACE-EE project is a transnational partnership of public health agencies, local authorities, academics and ICT experts dedicated to improving the quality of life for older citizens. It is funded by the Northern Periphery and Artctic Programme of the European Union with the aim to develop and implement sustainable solutions to encourage internet use and address the barriers to service access.

The hackathon, taking place on the Coleraine campus, challenged groups to develop proof of concepts for solutions designed to enable older citizens to stay engaged and connected in the digital environment. Mentors assisted developers throughout the event increasing participants programming and collaboration skills while adding to their professional portfolio. At the end of the hacakathon, participants pitched to a panel of judges, including key public and community stakeholders.

As Northern Ireland’s first age-friendly university, Ulster University is committed to widening access to higher education by enhancing the lives of older members of the local community through innovative educational programmes, civic engagement and research.

Professor Karise Hutchinson, Provost of the Coleraine campus said:

“Ulster University is proud to be an inclusive environment that promotes life-long learning and widening access and participation to all members of our community. Having been recognised as Northern Ireland’s first age-friendly university, we are dedicated to addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by a rapidly aging population.

With the increasing digitalisation of public services, the work of the PLACE-EE programme cannot be underestimated in instilling digital literacy skills to enable the older generation to stay connected, especially those in rural areas. It was fantastic to see people of all ages on the Coleraine campus working together during the hackathon to produce solutions that will no doubt go on to make a difference to the lives of many.”

Rachel Burn, Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme said on the event:

"I had the pleasure of being a judge at the hackathon, on behalf of the NPA programme as the funder of PLACE-EE. The NPA programme prides itself as being a people’s programme, so it has been very inspiring to see how this EU funded project can make a difference to the lives of citizens, especially those living in the northern peripheral regions. The hackathon bridged the technology gap between elderly and young people, designing practical, innovative digital solutions which aim to support the elderly in remote communities. The work of the project should be celebrated, and the success of the event embraced."