Bay Area students participate in “hackathon”

SAN RAFAEL (BCN) — Students from across the Bay Area participated in a “hackathon” event Saturday in San Rafael.

The sold-out Hack4Health event at the Marin County Office of Education brought 80 students together to brainstorm solutions to problems they see in their communities based on data provided by the county. The event was also a major public roll-out for a new online statistical database called Marin County Open Data.

A hackathon is a gathering of computer programmers and others who work on creating innovative software solutions in a short period of time. At Saturday’s event, students delved into data for opioid use, food facility inspections, obesity and emergency medical services.

Participants included middle school, high school and college students from throughout the region.

Five prizes were awarded to student hackers. The first place prize, worth $2,000, went to Anish Singhani of Monte Vista High School in Danville for “Best Solution Supporting a Healthier Community.”

Singhani’s idea was a mobile app that predicts where illness outbreaks might occur based on health hazards such as illegal dumping, stagnant water or unsanitary food facilities.

The winning projects used one or more of the datasets from Marin County Open Data, which was launched three months ago. The database is meant to improve government transparency and to invite the community to use the data.

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