Hacking for Good: Building Solutions for this New World
As COVID-19 continues to expand globally, it is impacting patients and affecting day-to-day life for people around the world. While consumers and businesses focus on how they can protect themselves and be prepared, technology providers like Vonage are also searching for innovative ways they can support efforts to combat the disease and its impacts.
Microsoft recently partnered with in.dev to launch a virtual hackathon. Vonage was a proud participant and sponsor, and personally, I was proud to be a member of the judging committee.
The goal of the virtual hackathon was to harness the power of the tech community and align efforts to help combat COVID-19 by bridging the gap between the unique needs of organizations dealing with this outbreak, and technologically savvy individuals and startups that can potentially offer solutions – on a global scale.
The virtual hackathon had nearly 1,500 participants register and 45 teams presented projects. Teams had two weeks to develop an idea or technology to join in the fight against COVID-19, and were tasked with addressing a pre-built challenge, such as those healthcare organizations are facing.
The pre-built challenges presented were posed by two organizations:
HealthIL, a non-profit venture between the Israel Innovation Institute, Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Digital Israel at the Ministry of Social Equality
Circles, an online platform dedicated to enabling innovation within organizations
Several Vonage employees volunteered their time to support hackathon participants, including Benjamin Aronov, an online community manager, who served as a member of the Demo Moderators team. Benjamin also made several instructional videos for participants to educate teams on how Vonage APIs could be used in their projects.
Ben Greenberg, one of Vonage’s developer advocates, volunteered as a member of the Ideas Ambassadors team helping to create the hackathon teams by pairing participants together based on interests and skill. He also worked closely with teams building with Vonage APIs and assisted them in their application development.
Vonage Client SDK Developer Advocate Manager Paul Ardeleanu was a mentor, offering his expertise on mobile technologies to the participants. “I particularly enjoyed being part of this highly dynamic hackathon, with great participation and great ideas with potential immediate positive impact on the well-being of key-workers and impacted social categories,” Paul commented.
One of the entries that leveraged Vonage technology was ‘Our Parents’ - a solution focused on being the “Uber For Good Deeds.” Our Parents was built as a two-sided marketplace connecting the elderly with “helpers” who provide deliveries and run errands. To ensure that the application was user-friendly and scalable, the team chose to integrate the Vonage Voice API with an Interactive Voice Response System (IVR). Ben Greenberg helped the Our Parents developers understand and implement the Vonage API. You can see the full Our Parents presentation on YouTube.
After my fellow judges and I reviewed and considered all the amazing entries, the top 5 teams’ presentations were shown live during a winners announcement. Vonage sponsored the first place prize, which was won by the team who created HospiTrack, an indoor positioning system which can accurately track medical staff exposure to the virus and alert hospitals to those who have been exposed through tracking technology. You can learn more about their project by watching their winning presentation on YouTube.
In this extraordinary time of need, Vonage is proud to be part of a community that works hard and works together to build global solutions. We know that together is how we will all get through this.