GlobalHack 6 Brings 1,200 Participants to SLU to Tackle Issue of Homelessness

Sponsored by Saint Louis University, GlobalHack VI kicked off on Friday, Oct. 21 at Chaifetz Arena, with more than 1,200 participants arriving on campus for the weekend-long hackathon, where they identified solutions for the issue of homelessness.

Hackathon organizers and Mayor Slay

Hackathon organizers pose with Chris Collins, S.J., assistant to the president for mission and identity (far left), Laurie Phillips, CEO of St. Patrick Center, Mayor Francis Slay (Law '80) and SLU vice president and CIO David Hakanson.

The156 teams were made up of participants who hailed from 33 states and seven foreign countries, including India, Nigeria, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.

A special opening ceremony featured a welcome from St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay (Law '80); David Hakanson, University vice president and chief information officer; and Laurie Phillips, CEO of St. Patrick Center, one of Missouri’s largest providers of housing, employment and health opportunities for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. 

The hackers worked around the clock for 48 hours to develop their ideas, and then presented their solutions to a panel of judges on Sunday, Oct. 23. After two rounds of judging, the winning teams were announced.

The grand prize went to a team who designed a responsive web application named "Samaritan," which matches individuals at risk of becoming homeless with actionable next steps and relevant resources.

Read the full list of winners

A team of SLU students made it into the second round of judging: Students Byron Abrigg, Austin Smith and Brandon Smith presented a solution they named “Neighbor,” a care provider management platform to connect individuals experiencing homelessness with care providers and the greater community (those in stable housing situations who want to get involved and offer compassion).

“It was an incredible experience to be with so many people trying to tackle a social problem that I’m very passionate about, said Byron Abrigg, SLU senior in the John Cook School of Business. “It was worth all the sleep lost to know that we were working toward making a difference for the men and women who call the streets of St. Louis their home.”

“Participating in GlobalHack VI was an exhausting, challenging and overall rewarding experience,” said Austin Smith, SLU senior in the Cook School. “Having the opportunity to try and create something that our society desperately needs to attend to our homeless neighbors was not only an experience in team-building and problem solving, but it also was a lesson in compassion. I am thankful for the perspective this event gave to me, and I look forward to seeing the world continually improved by compassionate people using technology for good. Meanwhile, I'll be catching up on some sleep.”

The winning solutions will be made available through an open-source license so that they are free for anyone to use and improve. Over the next 12 to 18 months, GlobalHack, St. Patrick Center and other Continuum of Care members will establish an implementation team and apply $250,000 of the prize money to develop one of the most promising solutions and bring it to market.

The event was sponsored by Saint Louis University’s John Cook School of Business. For a recap of tweets during GlobalHack VI, read more here, or review a SLU student's perspective of the event here.