האקאתון, תחזיקו חזק!

An intensive 24-hour hackathon took place at <itc> Tel Aviv campus, where our students demonstrated true tech talent, innovation, and creative energy, aiming to use technology for COVID-19 recovery.

It is our tradition at Israel Tech Challenge Hi-Tech Academy <itc> to team up our students from both the Full Stack Web Development Program and the Data Science Fellowship Program into a 24-hour highly intensive hackathon towards the end of their program. Aside from the teams being interdisciplinary, they are also mixing cultures, as our students come from various countries and backgrounds, all blended in the highly energized Israeli way.

In these hackathons, we challenge our students to take on a real-world problem and come up with innovative technological solutions. As we navigate our way into a “new normal” with the COVID-19 pandemic, knowing that the power of technology serves as a significant aid and growth engine for various industries, it seemed fitting that this year’s hackathon, held June 9th-10th, 2020, should deal with the aftermath and recovery from the Corona crisis.

The winning team of the hackathon was Shelp, an app that protects people from violence using voice recognition. Once a user feels insecure, a single tap on the mobile device begins recording, and once patterns that match violent speech emerge by anyone’s voice – The authorities and community help are notified to be on the way. In addition, a safe-word could be used to immediately call for help, without the threatening person even knowing about it. And how could this app be hidden in one’s mobile device? It is originally disguised as a fitness app.

This is a great example of a tech-based solution that addresses a pressing need, as family violence was recently on the rise in many places around the world, especially during COVID-19 lockdowns. Shelp, as an all-women team at <itc> hackathon, had unique insights into the target audience of this app and the specific needs vulnerable family members have. Shelp reassures its users, making them feel more secure in the knowledge that help is always one tap (or safe-word) away.

The Shelp team consisted of Keren Halperin, Inbar Avni, Tsofit Zohar and Moriah Cohen from our Data Science Fellowship Program, as well as Cheli Kalina and Danielle Korn from our Full Stack Development Program.

Hackathon winning team ”Shelp: Keren Halperin, Inbar Avni, Tsofit Zohar, Moriah Cohen, Cheli Kalina and Danielle Korn.

Here’s a shout-out to the other great ideas and teams: Full House – a ‘purple badge’ app that connects to CCTV and analyses for end consumers where it’s safe to be, in real time. CorPortunity – a platform that helps startups and investors better communicate during remote work times. Sup! – a platform that connects people based on shared interests in times of social distancing. VoluntHere – an on-demand micro-volunteering app, based on geo-location. Co(a)void – a “new normal” app that analyses and manages risks in real-time and recommends consumers where it’s safe to be outside, and warns when gatherings become risky to be around. JumpStarter – a platform that connects people and local businesses based on shared interests and micro-events. GhosTown – A platform that helps consumers figure out which AirBnB rentals survived COVID-19 and are still operating (based on rental payments) with a specific focus on NYC. VeilMe – an app that blurs photos by adding subtle noise, in order to secure users from cyber attacks, where hackers could scrap their faces and use them with facial recognition to access sensitive data.

<itc> CEO Yehoyada (Yo-Yo) Mande’el, speaking at the hackathon closing event.

At <itc>, our educational experience puts a strong emphasis on the importance of hands-on experience. We believe that practical experience gained in unison, by putting great minds together, can lead to significant achievements. Add the diversity of our student body to the mix, many of which come from different countries, cultures, and academic disciplines, and creativity is bound to flourish.

With events such as this #Covid19Recovery Hackathon, we train our students to be better, faster, more agile, and creative professionals in today’s competitive tech industry.