Swarthmore College Department of Computer Science

Swarthmore Students Win Hack4HumanityNYC

December 5-7, 2014, New York City: Swarthmore students Michael Piazza ('17), Simon Bloch ('17), Nader Helmy ('17), Miguel Gutierrez ('18), and Dylan Jeffers ('15) competed in and won Google's Hack4Humanity, a 48-hour hackathon aimed at having teams develop apps or programs with a humanitarian goal or social good in mind. The Swarthmore team created "Alli", an app for students on college campuses to both help prevent and raise awareness around sexual assault in the environments where it can develop.

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The Swarthmore team wowed the judges and fellow competitors with their app's simplicity and power. The judge's panel consisted of Google Ideas executives and representatives from UNICEF and the UN Development Fund. The Swatties (team quickSorta) beat out other teams from Yale, Penn, Harvard, Columbia, and five other stellar universities. Their tearful acceptance speech was truly inspiring, a perfect capstone to a weekend of impactful work and visionary thinking.

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The Alli app works by providing a simple button the user can press if they feel they are in danger. Pressing the button immediately alerts the top 5 people on the user's Friends List, as well as anonymous users in the nearby vicinity. It also provides the potential victim's location to the alerted friends, so they can respond or monitor the situation. The team plans to work on and develop "Alli", releasing it sometime next semester. They are also excited to get input from other students who care about this issue!