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Hackathons provide platform for innovation

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Events like the recent 24-hour Blockchain Hackathon, run by Santam in conjunction with IBM and the Blockchain Academy, play an important role in the ongoing development and improvement of the software industry.
This is according to SilverBridge senior software developer Jonathan Jardim, who won the Hackathon.
“There are a lot of new technologies out there and the only way we know if they will be secure enough is to get people to start using it. The more people and proof of concepts we have running on these new technologies, the faster we realise where the flaws are and the faster we can improve upon them,” he says.
Jardim believes that hackathons offer developers such as himself opportunities to find new ways to use old technology. He cites cryptography as an example.
“It [cryptography] has been around a long time but has now evolved to be used in different ways with new technologies. Of course, looking at the Blockchain Hackathon, developers there could use it in unison with the technology made available to us,” he says.
So, what was Jardim’s approach to solving the Hackathon challenges to become the eventual winner?
“Once I knew what the challenges were that we needed to address, I spent my initial time designing and refining my solution. I drew up an initial idea, and went around the room asking the professionals present (all of which had different areas of knowledge in the insurance industry).”
His idea then continued to evolve throughout the evening until it turned into the final solution Jardim presented. His time was split into roughly 30 percent working on the design and 70 percent on the actual coding and building of the idea.
While the event was focused on highlighting the impact of insurance fraud in the country, Jardim says software will never ever be completely secure.
“I think it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to have a system that is completely protected against malicious users. There is always some flaw, either in the software or the framework it is based on. So how do we stay ahead of malicious users? To do this, we need to continuously improve on our technologies and create new software that these users have not seen before,” he says.
According to Jardim, hackathons do just that by providing developers and companies with new ways to leverage more mature technologies with newer ones to make it more difficult for malicious users to compromise systems.