In early November, dozens of people gathered at Fusion’s offices in Oakland with one common goal: to find new ways to use technology to combat violence. The hackathon was organized by Reboot Safety, a Bay Area organization led by Linda Maepa and Angelica Coleman. Born from the problem of police violence against communities of color, Reboot Safety travels the U.S. organizing hackathons that aim at creating tools to help protect those communities.
Participants gathered for a full weekend of work, examining problems ranging from tracking data on violence to mental health resources. One of their inspirations was the app Concrn, a San Francisco-based service that lets users call volunteers to help the homeless or people with mental health issues, rather than the police.
The efforts of this diverse group, a mix of coding students, data journalists, programmers and entrepreneurs, led to some interesting solutions. One team built a text-based game, walking the user through a day in the life of a teen in Oakland, hoping to build up a player’s empathy. Two teams focused their efforts on organizational tools, building out a calendar for scheduling and following protests, and a ‘Yelp’ like app for mental health resources. Others looked further into the future, to a time when augmented reality is commonplace and virtual assistants might be able to coach you through a crisis unfolding on the street in front of you.
Reboot Safety has hosted hackathons all over the country, from Baltimore to San Francisco. To find out more about hosting a hackathon in your community, you can reach out to them here.