Hackathon creation ARKHumanity saves lives via Twitter

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/Squaredpixels)

Hackathons are often the birthplace of game-changing products, but rarely are they life-saving. A team of five students who met at 'Hacks 4 Humanity' has developed an application which aims to save lives through monitoring social media network Twitter. 

ARKHumanity monitors the microblogging service for specific tweets which contain set "crisis" keywords and ensures the person receives professional help before it's too late. 

Composed of a combination of doctoral students, undergraduate students and community leaders, the five team members first met each other at Project Humanities’ Hacks 4 Humanity, a hackathon focused on incorporating technology into humanities studies. 

It started with just ten people sat at a table attempting to find something in common; which brought light to the fact they had all lost someone at some point through suicide. One team member then highlighted an application developed in Chicago relating to finding tweets related to food poisoning which then redirects them to Chicago’s Department of Public Health’s online form. 

During the hackathon, the team scoured the internet for keywords and/or phrases which could highlight a potential issue such as "kill myself" or "shoot myself" and then puts them in touch with a relevant professional such as a psychologist, trained volunteer, or a partner organisation. 

The five member team went on to win the hackathon despite only setting-out to create something which helped to make a positive difference to the world. Instead of abandoning the project, they continued working on and developing the application to further its capabilities and used the $10,000 grand prize money to fund the the app’s complicated infrastructure and to present the technology at various conferences. 

It's hoped the application will be complete by this Spring, and an initial trial will be put in place with Teen Lifeline - a dedicated teen crisis service. 

For more information on Hacks 4 Humanity, head to their website here. 

Do you know of a hackathon creation which has changed lives? Let us know in the comments.

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