On Saturday, April 7th, 2018, the beautiful BRIIA office at Bishop Ranch was buzzing with energy. The organizers, participants, volunteers, and judges attending the first San Ramon Hackathon were anticipating the exciting day ahead. They have gathered to work on ideas to improve emergency preparedness for the city of San Ramon. The event was so popular that registration was sold out more than a week before! The attendees are young adults from San Ramon and neighboring cities. Some came all the way from San Francisco and San Jose!
Mayor Bill Clarkson kicked off the day with an inspiring speech on why public safety and emergency preparedness is so important and how technology can dramatically improve it. Anson Hu, co-founder of Green Apple Education Foundation (GAEF), shared why he initiated this hackathon with the Mayor and thanked sponsors, volunteers, and fellow organizers for making this event happen. Then Captain Denton Carlson of SRPD spoke about San Ramon’s current state of emergency preparedness and the potential gaps. Les Schmidt and Melissa Ross, co-founders of BRIIA and co-host of the event, were welcoming to all.
After an intense day of hacking, 16 teams presented their ideas. The judges were very impressed. The ideas presented were unique and innovative. Most teams were able to develop working prototypes or designs using various technologies to showcase their solutions. After much deliberation, the judges decided 3 winners. Team SafeDragon won the first place by solving communication challenges during an emergency using a combination of hardware and software. Team 5776X won the 2nd place with a SMS Bot and a preparedness mobile app. Team Communicaid designed a well-thought mobile app to raise aware of preparation for emergencies and won the third place. In addition to the prizes, these winning ideas will now be reviewed by Caption Carlson and City Managers for future implementation.
It’s almost 7 o’clock in the evening. The BRIIA office is still filled with energy. The winners are congratulated by the attendees, and taking pictures with the Mayor. The volunteers, mostly Green Apple Education Foundatoni student members and their parents, and local high school students, are busy cleaning up and restoring BRIIA office to its original shape. Everyone is tired after a long day. But everyone is excited and inspired. One message is clear – this is a very successful hackathon and we will do it again next year but even better.
Not only has this event inspired new ideas to benefit the community, it also inspired the young participants to further develop and apply their tech skills in real life. The next day, a participating parent shared how this event inspired his daughter and son – “I could personally see positive impact of your Hackathon. As soon as we were back to home from hackathon event, my daughter started coding with more focus towards creating a solution rather than just for fun coding. And that positive vibe is in-turn helping her younger brother who is learning programming from scratch.”
What an inspiring day it was!