The WWCode Atlanta Hackathon: Women Take on Tech was an exciting event that brought together diverse minds from across the United States in order to collaborate on technological innovations to improve the world. From amidst this bubbling atmosphere of creativity and inspiration an idea was born that had implications for the relationship between citizens and civil servants. The group was named Public Defenders, and their planned application, Guardian, was a way to allow people to rate and review police officers and other government employees in order to provide internal statistics for improved performance.
Before the event formally started there was an introductory Hackathon 101 session in which participants were informed of the basic protocols and procedures that would be followed over the next 3 days. They were then able to choose different tracks that allowed them to drill down into specific topics on the emerging frontiers of technology with industry experts.
The official Hackathon began with a pitch session where people could present their ideas to the entire room. Each participant was then able to gravitate towards the concept that most intrigued them, and from this process teams were formed. Public Defenders, made up of Ronique Young, Shanda Kennedy, Nikaylah Woody, Ayanna Kosoko, Elle Chun, and Lynsey Ham united around a plan to develop an app that would make use of social rating to improve police performance and ensure a more efficient and productive civil service sector.
Elle Chun a recent graduate from the General Assembly UX Design Immersive program, described Public Defenders preliminary steps,
As a team, we brainstormed ideas and began the sketching process. I focused on the visual for the mobile app experience while Lynsey focused on the website, and afterwards, we gave each other feedback and made the initial changes to our designs.
The work took place in two floors of an office building in Tech Square, with individual teams each setting up shop in private offices where they could hash out their ideas. Throughout the process expert mentors floated through the area providing guidance, advice, and assistance as needed. Ronique Young, a Specialist Applications Developer at AT&T, spoke about the experience,
My teammates and I had an amazing time working on our app and the ladies who volunteered as mentors and who assisted with the hackathon were a tremendous help as well.
At the end of the weekend each team was able to present their work, and a panel of expert judges rated them based on creativity, innovation, and incorporation of the ideas presented during the Hackathon 101 session. Public Defender's Guardian App emerged as Third Place in this contest, with each member of the group being awarded a gift card, a media feature, and a one year membership to the ATDC workspace so they could continue the process of developing their project.
Team member and Augsburg College Computer Science student Nikaylah Woody described her takeaways from the Hackathon,
I've learned the importance of working with creative developers such as our UX/UI designers and the importance of having product managers to analyze every aspect of our prototype. As a current computer science undergraduate it was the perfect experience to learn how software engineers work together in the real workplace.