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Hackathon update!

chrispinkney profile image Chris Pinkney ・3 min read

Today marks the closing of my Hackathon week, aka the week where I neglected everything in the world, while hacking away on an app.

This week my partner and I participated in Seneca's Hackathon. It was an amazing experience that I highly recommend if you're looking to get humbled, to have a good time, or both. Preferably both. The hackathon featured keynote speakers, mentors, advice panels, and late night mixers!

There were several categories to participate in, but my partner and I decided to participate in the Digital Health/Vaccination Passport to Support category:

Enable organizations to verify health credentials for employees, students, customers, and visitors entering their site based on criteria specified by the organization. Privacy and integrity is central to the solution, and the digital wallet can allow individuals to maintain control of their personal health information and share it in a way that is secured, verifiable, and trusted. Participants can attempt to model processes to implement contact-tracing using digital health passports, to identify other individuals who accessed the same spaces/areas in a set period. Sponsors will provide instances and technical support for teams.

Every team in this category was given the following challenge (but given leeway to be as creative as possible while still maintaining the objectives outlined):

Your challenge here is to make it simple, safe and secure to check vaccination status of individual and help institutions such as your school or office to verify it, to ensure safety of the people returning to them.

Here is my mockup of the app I wanted to design:
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Given that this is a category centered around privacy and integrity (two things which I value) naturally, this category spoke to me. It also seemed relatively easy given the uh... current climate of things around the world right now. My team's idea was to have a security and privacy centric app which allows users to quickly and easily display their vaccination and disease testing history with just a few clicks on a screen, which then spits out a QR code for easy reading and verification. We also wanted the app to also educate users on vaccines and diseases.

Luckily my wonderful girlfriend Hope curated information about various diseases (as advocated by the Ontario and Canadian government.) Another thing I wanted to focus on was life after COVID, so my team and I ensured the app also supported a wide variety of other diseases, such that the app doesn't succumb to a simple life of bit rot after this is all over. Over the three days of the hackathon I personally spent about 25-30 hours working on the app.

While we didn't win (and am too embarrassed to post the source code which is not hard to find) I really enjoyed my time and can't wait for the next one. My only two regrets is that it couldn't be held in person, and that I'll be graduating soon, meaning I'll be unable to participate in the next hackathon.

The hackathon was sponsored by Salesforce, Sightline Innovation, Microsoft, and others. I attended two keynotes speeches during my time, both very interesting, particularly the talk from a Microsoft CFO regarding the state of IOT and various industries facing integration and challenges . I have no experience in IOT but embedded devices are something that I've always wanted to get involved with. I asked a question during the keystone on how to get involved and was told to "pick up a raspberry pi and start hacking" (paraphrased.) So hey, maybe I'll do that?

10/10 experience, highly recommend. I'm excited to attend another hackathon outside of my school.

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