Public Safety Hacked, but in a Good Way

Public Safety Hacked, but in a Good Way

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 3:35pm


By Scott Agnew, AT&T Public Safety Director

On May 2-3, just blocks from the White House, AT&T hosted its 3rd Public Safety Mobile Application Hackathon at the startup facility 1776. This event was all about using technology for social good and developing mobile applications for our First Responders who put their lives on the line to protect and serve the community. The best part of the event was that the Washington, D.C. developer community showed up in droves, motivated by the opportunity to contribute to the greater good and the chance to win more than $25,000 in prizes. What I learned about developers is that they are as strongly motivated by improving their communities as they are by monetary rewards, which is very inspiring.      

During the 24-hour competition, 100 developers representing the great diversity of our nation’s capital formed teams and worked through the night, powered by caffeine and sugary treats (and Indian food, delish!) to create 15 mobile applications that offered real solutions to challenges faced by First Responders.  And now to recognize the truly deserving winners:

  • First Place ($10,000 cash) – Team Beacon – Team Beacon developed an app that will enable people who are disabled, injured or lost to quickly and silently communicate their condition and location to friends, family and emergency professionals. A companion app will communicate their location and condition in real-time on Google Maps. Team Beacon plans to release the Beacon app in mobile app stores this summer.
  • Second Place ($3,000 cash) – Team Beckon – This team developed technology that will allow first responders to find persons in distress. In situations of extreme peril, iBeacon can be set to turn on immediately to work in conjunction with geo-fencing during fly overs to find buried cellphones.
  • Third Place ($2,000 cash) – Team Glass of Life – Glass of Life would help first responders extricate people from cars using Google Glass and augmented reality to see car schematics.

I want to thank our sponsors Apperian, Google and McAfee for their contribution to this amazing event.   I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the great support from the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications who really connected with the developers to teach them about the needs of First Responders. Mark Reddish, from APCO, captured the synergy between First Responders and Developers at the event in his blog Rapid Response: Building public safety apps in 24 hours. 

I am looking forward to seeing what the developers create at our next Public Safety Hackathon on June 20th at the AT&T Foundry in Plano, Texas. Learn more about participating in one of AT&T’s hackathons.