AT&T FirstNet Public Safety Hackathon Announces Two Winners

Students worked non-stop for more than 24 hours to develop apps in the following categories: public safety, the opioid crisis and improved engagement between first responders and the communities they serve.

by Allie Kirkman, South Bend Tribune, Ind. / October 14, 2019

(TNS) — Two Ivy Tech Community College South Bend-Elkhart students recently won top prizes at the fourth annual AT&T FirstNet Public Safety Hackathon.

Alvaro Soto Garcia and Paul Troxell joined a team of 15 students from seven Ivy Tech campuses to participate in the event last month in Indianapolis. Software developers from across the state were tasked with creating mobile apps that could assist firefighters, law enforcement and emergency management services.

Students worked non-stop for more than 24 hours to develop apps in the following categories: public safety, the opioid crisis and improved engagement between first responders and the communities they serve.

Soto Garcia said his team addressed every challenge, but focused heavily on the opioid crisis.

“We were inspired by one of the members of our team who had been directly impacted by this ongoing crisis,” he said. “He shared his story and it really motivated us to get it (developing the app) done to the best of our ability in a way that would really help people.”

The group developed an app that would connect community members with Narcan, a drug that counteracts opioid overdoses. The app could be used to signal the immediate need for the drug and have it sent within a certain distance, which would be potentially faster than an ambulance and without the need to call 911.

“Basically all you would have to do is push a button on a screen if you or someone you know is overdosing. It immediately contacts surrounding community members and first responders who will receive the location of where the report was sent,” Soto Garcia said. “The goal was to have a far reach in order to get someone to respond to the emergency as soon as possible.”

Soto Garcia, who acted as his team’s morale and communications leader, said the group faced multiple challenges during the app’s development. On top of being sleep-deprived, the students had to correct coding and start over two or three times, all while working with strangers.

The hard work paid off and the collaborative Ivy Tech team won first place in “Best App for the Opioid Crisis” and second place in the “Best App from a Student Team” categories, taking home a total of $7,000 in prize money. The money was divided up among the students.

Alf Sanford, an Ivy Tech IT professor, said the recent win just goes to show what the college’s students are capable of accomplishing.

“We beat some pretty good competition and that speaks to the quality of our programs and the hard work our Ivy Tech students put in,” Sanford said. “We’re all really proud of our student and faculty team.”

akirkman@sbtinfo.com

574-235-6335

@alliekirkman15

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