Dell Technologies’ PolicyHacks: The Vision

In 2015, Dell Technologies hosted its first PolicyHack in Austin, Texas to provide a platform for an interactive, competitive, hackathon that tasked participants to design solutions for pressing public policy challenges. Held alongside that year’s SXSW conference, we used the platform to connect local technology and entrepreneurship communities with policymakers, where participants pitched their solutions for building a stronger and more inclusive framework of tech policies to a panel of judges comprising of policymakers, think tanks, industry champions, and others. Though in its nascent form, it helped shine a spotlight on how new ideas could be generated and implemented to address some of the most pressing public policy challenges that we face around the world. With the transformations we are witnessing today, we plan to use these hacks to help inform and guide our efforts to tackle economic and social disparities.

Since our first Dell PolicyHack, we have conducted over 30 hackathons across eight countries. Each PolicyHack is tailored by our colleagues and partners in each country to reflect on the most relevant local issues. Over the last five years, we have seen brilliant minds come together and propose creative solutions to wide-ranging challenges such as enabling digital education in India, encouraging more women to study STEM subjects in Brazil, and fostering entrepreneurship in Mexico and Australia. Winning solutions have included: customized curriculae to enable digital learning, multi-platform awareness campaigns to integrate more women into STEM, and management training programs to support female entrepreneurship. In each case, we have pledged to work with officials to implement the winning ideas.

In today’s world, we are increasingly seeing the importance of people coming together to solve societal, economic and political challenges. At Dell Technologies, we are committed to harnessing the power of technology to transform human lives – and we view this mission as central to our PolicyHack initiatives.

We recognize that these multifaceted challenges require sweeping solutions that are bigger than one government or company. This is why we work with a wide network of stakeholders from government, academia, business, and civil society for each PolicyHack to ensure an inclusive and collaborative approach. For instance, in November 2019, our PolicyHack in Mexico City convened over 800 participants from various sectors, including all 32 Digital Inclusion Centers across the country that are run by the Mexican Government’s Secretary of Communications and Transport. Participants created over 180 proposals on key issues affecting their region, such as expanding digital access. Our expert panel of judges narrowed down the three best solutions, where the PolicyHack team worked with winning team to implement their proposals.

Most importantly, we’re committed to transforming winning proposals into actionable policy recommendations and reforms. For instance, our series of PolicyHacks for teachers in India highlighted the importance of working with educators and investing in their capacity to build digital classrooms. The deliberations were well received by local stakeholders and we continue to build on these collaborations. With teacher capacity building reflected as a priority in India’s Draft National Education Policy, we will continue to work in this ecosystem to insert new proposals generated from our PolicyHacks.  Today, it is important to bring people closer together and leverage the power of technology for social good.We look forward to bringing our PolicyHacks to new geographies and partnering with an even wider community of innovators and changemakers, even if it’s conducted virtually. Aligned with our Social Impact 2030 goals and our plan to implement them via public policy, we are inspired by what the future holds as we continue to push the boundaries on innovation and leverage new technologies to achieve human progress.

If you’d like to host a PolicyHack along with us at Dell Technologies, we’d be delighted to hear from you – You can also read more about individual PolicyHacks here.

About the Author: Michael Young

Michael Young leads Dell Technologies’ Global Government Affairs practice and represents the company in key policy organizations including the Technology CEO Council (TCC), the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), U.S. Global Leadership Council and the U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center. Mike joined Dell Technologies in 2003 to build the company’s federal government affairs program and restart Dell Technologies’ Employee Political Action Committee. Over the years, Mike served as head of Dell Technologies’ Federal and State Government Affairs team in the U.S. and Latin America, where he advocated for public policy and expanded sales opportunities in various state capitals. Prior to joining Dell Technologies, Mike served as Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) in Washington, D.C., where he managed technology, judiciary, science, energy and defense issues. Mike was a member of Congressman Smith’s staff for eight years and assisted in several political and campaign related initiatives as well. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Mike received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. He enjoys reading, snow skiing, FPS (Xbox One) and 4X (Alienware 17) gaming. He, his wife, their three children, two dogs, two hedgehogs, one lizard, one guinea pig and one fish reside in Austin, Texas.