How We Hacked Yes Ball Games Spaces in Barking and Dagenham


After the amazing social cohesion hackathon that took place last year at Digilab, and gender equality hackathon that took place earlier this year that produced NOYO on the app store and play store. Digilab and lbbd, in partnership with London Sport, with the support of Nisha Valand, ran a hackathon over the weekend of 17th - 18th November to solve the challenge of unused ‘No Ball Games’ spaces and small empty green spaces in Barking and Dagenham.

We’ve seen the countless signs for ‘No Ball Games’ on grass and streets that prevent people from interacting outside in areas around their homes, schools and businesses. What if there was a solution to open up these green and grey spaces for social sport, play and interactivity in the community?

This was the theme of the YES BALL GAMES hackathon 2018. It’s time to take back the streets of Barking & Dagenham.

“The weekend hackathon was a great success, with excellent concepts, particularly delighted to have had the hack full of local residents embracing frugality” Seun Oshinaike, Digilab.

The Hackathan produced three great ideas from three diverse teams

Outdoor Games Park (3rd Prize) - Imagine the outdoor gyms in the park, now imagine outdoor games park in the pockets of 'No Ball Games' spaces around communities in Barking and Dagenham. The outdoor games park filled with a mini trampoline levelled with the flat ground, climbing frame with a set of monkey bars with a seated zipwire and net, and finally a twister game on the floor. Not all their team members could attend the presentation on Sunday, nonetheless a massive welldone to the whole team.


Knock The Block (2nd Prize) - Is an adaptable low-cost IOT (Internet of Things) device that can either be hanged onto a wall or as a standalone option in 'No Ball Games' spaces, the concept being that residents nearby can interact with the wall by aiming small softballs at the devices, imagine three IOT flat boxes embedded against the wall, three people can play, you have to hit your chosen device, if you hit another player's device then your point goes to that player. Each device has a counter display on it.

This team are just mind-blowing with their rapid prototyping. They all went to the pound shop to buy various small bits that included kitchen foil paper, skewers, and office calculator. Re-engineered the calculator with two wires soldered into it to serve as a counter connected to a small wrapped aluminium foil serving as a shock sensor - every time the foil receives a shake or hit, it reflects as a count on the calculator. See video.

To achieve the above, the team considered curiosity, frugality, easy play and less prerequisite.

Digilab particularly love this team's concept as we see potential use case beyond the pockets of small outdoor green spaces e.g. this could be ideal to have in care homes for the elderly to use as a form of interactive exercise game for their upper body.


GreenSpace (1st prize) - Discover open spaces nearby, book the spaces or join a session, and rate the space after use. A platform that allows 'No Ball Game' areas to be transformed into areas where people can have fun, be educated and host activities in.

Age of the team is 14, 15, 16, 17.

"We aim our platform at people who would like to host activities in areas that may be more accessible for users, and for people who'd like to use a quieter open space rather than a park. When an open space is booked, the private property license is granted to the user for the duration of the activity."

"Another use case for our platform is for children/ teenagers who'd like to get active while gaining rewards for their participation in events. This will entice users as they would be able to win and redeem many prizes to different sports outlets that partner with GreenSpace."

"Another enticing use case is our platform being able to provide equipment in lockers stored at some 'No Ball Game'  areas."

Test this team's demo app here.


The judging criteria for the hackathon:

Local Relevance



Innovation & Fun

Thank you to our judges, Nisha Valand, Nathan Mcnally from HS, Patrick Colbeck from Sport Tech Hub, and Jack Connors from UKActive. And a big thank you to our mentor on the hackathon Mayuri Mehta.

If you like any of the hack ideas and you'd like to support the team, please send us an email digilab AT More videos of the hackathon and pitches will be available on our YouTube channel.

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