Recap „Vater Smart“-Hackathon 2023

Author: Daniel Schmich

Public Hackathon 2023

2023 organising team (left to right): Leonard Böning, Maximilian Schäfer, Lea Kramer, Daniel Schmich, Michael Vössing, Ina Mitternacht. Not pictured: Elisa Krebs, Nikolas Riemer.

The third "Vater Smart"-Hackathon for public-sector IT employees and managers was held from 27 to 29 September 2023. During this annual three-day digital marathon, participants work together to develop solutions for the exciting, real challenges and problems of public-sector partners.

The third edition of the “Vater Smart”-Hackathon was another resounding success. Thirteen teams with a total of 100 participants from the public sector, all eager to find solutions for their challenges, came to our offices in Berlin, Bonn and Munich or joined the event remotely. By taking part, they demonstrated their willingness to expand their horizons and try new things – especially GenAI tools this year.

Customers & Challenges 

The issues addressed covered a broad spectrum of topics, from using GenAI to improve daily (editorial) work efficiency to the role of digitisation in promoting mental well-being in the workplace.

The teams came from the German Armed Forces, ITZBund (the German Federal Information Technology Centre), Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund (the German Federal Pension Fund), KBS Minijob-Zentrale, and many more.

Selection of participating institutions in 2023

Tech & Team

The participants were once again impressed by our hybrid organisation and professional streaming setup at our Berlin and Munich offices and online. More than 190 services were accessed via the IBM Cloud and Open Shift and applied during the brainstorming.

For example, watsonx.ai was used in more than half of all of the challenges. With watsonx.ai, we made it possible for the participants to try out a multitude of generative AI models. As a result, they were able to develop the necessary solutions in a fraction of the time this would normally take. The tools they created have the potential to free up valuable working time for thousands of public administration employees.

LLM as Key Player

An AI-based editorial assistant designed to provide step-by-step support to editors working for our customer Minijob-Zentrale when researching, planning and drafting new articles emerged from one of the hackathon challenges. The assistant is a tool-agnostic application. Various interchangeable GenAI solutions are currently connected via watsonx.ai. By the users’ own estimates, the very pragmatic solution tailored precisely to the customer’s needs will reduce the time needed for content creation by around 75%. The demo version will now be further developed into a deployable tool.

The teams collaborated virtually across locations using Webex. Through the strengths and cooperation of IBM Consulting, IBM Technology and IBM iX as #OneIBM, we were able to provide our customers with the best possible support as they solved their challenges, thus ensuring a great experience. And we also learned some things ourselves when it came to prompting.

Food for Thought

We had three interesting and entertaining experts to hand in the form of Christine Serrette, Technical Vice-Director at ITZBund, Dirk Petrautzki, Head of System Development at IT-Systemhaus der Bundesagentur für Arbeit (the internal IT service for the German Federal Employment Agency), and Parliamentary State Secretary Franziska Brantner (Member of the German Parliament) from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action – all sources of inspiration on the topic of the digital transformation of public administration. Thank you very much for your in-depth contributions!

The next steps

We plan to organise a meet-up with participants from all three years of the hackathon in spring 2024 to strengthen networking between them and foster further dialogue across the various agencies.

Of course, we are also keen to find out whether and how the solutions are being applied in everyday contexts.

In view of the outstanding results and overwhelmingly positive feedback, we intend to organise a further public-sector hackathon in autumn 2024. Please reach out to us if you would like to take part!




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