Hackathon for First Responders Deemed a Success

August 11, 2016

Thank you to our event sponsors and partners: City of Huntsville, GEOHuntsville, Adobe, Samsung, Red Hat, GitHub, Carahsoft, AEgis Technologies, Compass-Huntsville, Plum Case, and TekSystems.

Blue Compass is proud to be the Prime Contractor for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) Hackathons-as-a-Service (HKaaS) contract. The purpose surrounding HkaaS is to provide the NGA with an alternative and open approach in solving the challenges NGA faces when discovering, capturing, analyzing and disseminating innovative perspective solutions and providing feedback. Currently HkaaS events are scheduled to be held in technology rich areas within the continental United States. The hackathon event provides important themes that hackers of all skill levels are challenged to develop solutions against – in 36 hours or less. These hackathon environments are meant to be fun, comfortable, filled with delicious goodies, very cool swag, outstanding prizes and importantly are free from political or corporate influences.

Our very first HkaaS event was successfully conducted in Huntsville, Alabama on May 2nd and 3rd 2016. Blue Compass led the hackathon event which was an inaugural event for Innovate Huntsville Week. In partnership with GeoHuntsville, which directly supports Director Cardillo and Deputy Director Gordon’s vision to work together with the community of Huntsville, NGA provided the hackers with a user-centric challenge focused on disaster response to commemorate 5 years from a major tornado disaster in 2011 that devastated the Huntsville area. NGA also provided as much unclassified and unrestricted data as possible and Blue Compass made it conveniently available to the hackers so they could easily leverage the data during the hackathon. Hackers were asked to use one or more of the data sets and it was preferred they would use GeoQ, an NGA technology, but not mandatory.

The winning team developed an application that will help first responders to display & report damaged structures and injured personnel in emergency situations. The main goal is help triage wounded patients. It helps in viewing & reporting critical information. This team won $1,000 cash, mentoring from a local Venture Capitalist (VC), and opportunity to pitch to VCs later in Innovate Huntsville Week.

The runner up team developed an application that assesses location near-by hospitals – shows location, occupation and their operational status and won $500 cash and one-year Adobe Creative Suite subscriptions.

Third place was a tie. One team developed a Mobile Virtual Reality First Responder Planning Visualization Tool and the other developed a Tactical real time display for dash mount, provides COR across multiple agencies as well relevant building interior schematics. Both teams won a package of Samsung VR goggle, mobile phone, and headset.

Event judges expressed satisfaction that the products generated were well beyond what was expected in such a short time therefore indicating a talent rich environment. The hackers raved about the comfort and amenities of the venue as well as the challenge of attempting to address real world first responder issues in a short period of intense focus. Positive comments were received from the local and extended sponsors concerning the performance of the structure and technical execution of the hackathon; the venue, food, snacks, exposure of the hackers to the first responders and the level of talent in attendance. There was a great participation of local and extended sponsors ensuring nice swag, fun environment, comfortable venue and outstanding prizes.