The fifth annual Geek Fest was held last Wedenesday night at the Ontario Science Centre’s subterranean “Hot Zone,” hosted by Canadian IT firm T4G. About 200 sharply dressed geeks gathered to sip wine and throw around words like “automaticity,” before surrounding a stage to watch so-called “supreme geeks” in white lab coats evaluate three elevator pitches, à la Dragon’s Den.
Twenty-seven-year-old Shawn Peterson, a software developer from Saint John, New Brunswick, walked away with the big $10,000 prize (cash provided by T4G).
His genius idea was Q-Time, a software program that analyzes emergency-room wait times to offer hospital staff feedback on their efficiency, while letting patients know how long they can expect to be sitting around (depending on whether they’ve got a shotgun wound or simply at a burrito too quickly).
He was inspired to develop Q-Time after an epically long wait at an ER in New Brunswick. “You can’t understand how tough it is when you’re just sitting there for hours at a time and you have no idea when you’re going to get seen because you’re not part of what’s going on.”
Pilot projects utilizing Q-Time are being discussed in Saint John, and Toronto could be next. But Peterson warns that this demands an open-minded approach to hospital management—staff can’t be scared off by having their embarrassingly long wait times made public.
After the prize went to Q-Time (runners-up included a virtual office lobby assistant and a website that connects charities with volunteers), Peterson was asked what he would do with the $10,000. He reiterated the fact that it was a personal prize.
“I mean, you can go buy M&Ms with it, if you want,” he said. “I haven’t talked to my wife or anything yet, but I imagine we’ll probably just pay down our debt.”