We’re working with some of the best tech talent in Northern Ireland as part of Techies in Residence, including Richard from Zoo Creative who is leading on the project with Shelter NI.

Tell me a little about yourself and your organisation

I have been working as a designer/programmer for over 20 years. I started life making call management tools and e-learning back in Stream to help agents log calls and monitor their stats through out the day. I then started up in Zoocreative back in 2006 and have been developing web solutions and designing all kinds of things for the past 12 years. We like to think we are very versatile here at Zoocreative and over the years have tried our hand at many things from hand drawn maps for the Return of Colmcille in 2013 to making complex educational tools for clients like Izak9.

What attracted you to the Techies in Residence Programme?

Ever since I was a child I have loved solving problems. Back then it was “spot the difference” and logic puzzles but the principal is the same. I enjoy the challenge of finding a solution to tackle a problem. The Techies in Residence Programme is a great opportunity for organisations to tackle problems they are having by linking them with local techies that they might not have known about or had the opportunity to work with. This not only gives them a viable tool to invest further time in but it also allows techies to unleash their creative abilities to help tackle these problems.

What attracted you to working with (the organisation you’re working with)?

I really like the idea of creating a system to help streamline the process for people in need. The work carried out by these tradespeople is vital to their quality of life and it’s important that it’s carried out by the right people. Putting the control of this in the hands of the customer not only gives them that opportunity but it also frees up vital time for the staff at Shelter to help those who really need it. However, it also helps the traders that really shine at this kind of work to get the recognition they deserve for doing great work for those that really need it.

Tell us a little about what’s exciting about this project?

I think it’s exciting to think that this project will help those in need by giving them a simple online process to submit, quote and rate the jobs they need to give them a better quality of life. I am aware that some people will still use the older system but even removing some of those jobs from the pipeline will allow the staff to spend more time on the more complex jobs that need more face to face help.

What challenges do you think you’re going to face in this process?

I think the biggest challenge will be ensuring that everyone is happy with the process, especially the traders. We need to make sure that the system does not give them the impression that the customer has all the control and they will be fighting for work or penalised for trivial issues.

What scope do you see for your solution beyond Northern Ireland?

I think this kind of solution would be very easily adopted outside Northern Ireland. Although other solutions do exist in a similar vain. I believe this solution offers a solution to a very specific market. The programme in its current pen and paper mode only serves the North West of Northern Ireland but we already feel that by offering an online version this could be expanded to include all of Northern Ireland.

The Techies in Residence programme is an initiative of Social Innovation NI, managed by the Building Change Trust, which in turn has been funded by Big Lottery Fund and also Comic Relief. Innovate NI have been appointed by the Trust as Managing Agent for the ongoing development and delivery of Techies in Residence.