Massive COVID-19 hackathon kicks off tonight!

covid-19 flatten the curve hackathon
More than 2000 participants will compete in the Flatten the Curve hackathon this weekend. Image: Shutterstock

Talk about big plans for the Easter long weekend: More than 2000 tech heroes are about to kick off a record-breaking hackathon to help flatten the curve!

Starting at 6pm AET  today (Thursday, 9 April) the Australian Computing Society (ACS) will host a 48-hour Flatten the Curve hackathon. The event will see more than 2000 competitors take on 62 different COVID-19-related challenges that have been submitted by the tech community through the #flattenthecurvehack website.

Examples of submitted challenges that will be considered include how to make it easier to stop touching your face, and how to combat the spread of misinformation.

Leading the hackathon will be ACS Head of Data Science, Steve Nouri. “It’s amazing to see all these people ready to collaborate for more than 48 hours to find some applicable solutions around the coronavirus challenges,” he said.

“I have been involved in more than 12 national and international hackathons in the past couple of years and I can testify that this is right now the largest hackathon we have ever had in the APAC region.”

Registrations to participate in the hackathon are open until 3.30pm AET today. The hackathon competitors will be mentored by 150 tech industry experts also taking part in the weekend event.

RELATED: Tech innovations in response to COVID-19

Having an impact

“It goes without saying what a great privilege it is to help organise something that may be potentially so impactful,” said hackathon chief mentor, Janson Lim. “Not only for Australia in its healthcare, economic and social resilience, but also to potentially export these solutions all over the world.”

This will be the first ever hackathon for participant Mengyao Wang, who is studying for a Master of Data Science at the University of Sydney. “I’ve heard about [hackathons] before, but I always thought that it was something more for computer science wizzes or programmers. But this challenge was different,” she said.

flatten the curve covid-19 hackathon
University of Sydney Master of Data Science student Mengyao Wang will be taking part in the hackathon. Image: supplied

Mengyao has a personal stake in contributing to COVID-19 solutions. “My nana is confined in a nursing home right now because of this, and so many others have it worse. So, I stood up, it was super easy and friendly being onboarded and I’ve already met some amazing tech and domain mentors who can bolster my design and humanitarian interests. I hope to see more of these happening and competing even more!”

According to Steve Nouri the 2000-strong community of developers, data scientists, business experts, artists and students all came together in less than a week, and the whole hackathon event was organised by the ACS, the professional association for Australia’s technology sector, in less than two weeks.

“Over the next few days I will be personally curious to see what sort of innovations can arise, from IOT [Internet of Things]-enhanced thermometers, crisis management software or even mental health checks: but I’m sure the most impactful one will be something none of us would’ve imagined,” he said.

The results from the hackathon will be released in the coming weeks.

RELATED: You can take part in these COVID-19 citizen science projects

Gemma Chilton

Author: Gemma Chilton

Gemma has a degree in journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney and spent a semester studying environmental journalism in Denmark. She has been writing about science and engineering for over a decade.

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