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Hacking for public safety gives developers added incentive

AT&T
Hacking for public safety gives developers added incentive

Creating an app for first responders is unlike any app that LaTonya Williams says she’s ever created.

"It’s not just for social media purposes. Or something that’s cool and neat. It’s something that’s necessary and that’s going to help everybody," says Williams. She was one of 233 developers who gathered for the inaugural hackathon in San Francisco earlier this year to come up with fixes for first responder communication pain points.

On Oct. 19-20, developers, designers and entrepreneurs will once again come together to hack innovative solutions for public safety. This time, they'll do it in downtown Chicago in the second such event sponsored by FirstNet, built with AT&T.

The AT&T "Believe Chicago" initiative also is supporting the event. Believe Chicago is an AT&T-employee initiative to improve lives and lift 19 Chicago neighborhoods most affected by gun violence and high unemployment.

First Responder Input

Participants will partner with public safety experts and first responders to hear about real-life public safety challenges. And they’ll spend two days hacking solutions for those challenges. By hacking for public safety, developers can get involved in creating applications that may someday help to save lives.

A panel of judges will review the entries to determine the winners based on specific criteria. This includes scalability, usability, availability and privacy of the application.

"I’m happy there were first responders here that I could actually use as subject matter experts," said Williams. "I was able to ask them on my own: What type of app do you need? And why do you need it?"

Improving first responder communication is the goal of the hackathons.

"There’s a lot of hackathons to choose from and we’re pretty active in the space," said Cory Kane, another developer at the San Francisco Hackathon. "But we chose this one because … it makes a difference."

"It’s cool to make a difference in a corporation’s checkbook," he added. "But it’s even more impactful to be able to say: This person is still alive, potentially because of an app that I made."

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