A team at Code4PA's 2017 event

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At last year’s Code4PA, participants created tools that connect people with Pennsylvania parks, show radon levels across the state, and predict auto crashes based on weather.

This year, the state-sponsored hackathon will address one of the commonwealth’s most pressing issues: the opioid epidemic.

During the weekend of Sept. 21, teams that convene at four locations across Pa. — including one in Philly — will use open data to develop ideas and tools that tackle one of the following:

  • Preventing Opioid-Use Disorder
  • Rescue – Saving Pennsylvania Lives
  • Ensuring Access to Treatment

While teams can come up with their own idea, Code4PA’s organizers have published a number of use cases that detail current situations and desired outcomes. One suggestion calls for a budgeting model to determine the cost of a universal visitation program for mothers who use opioids. Another asks for a community marketing campaign that emphasizes compassion, while another suggests a support app for first responders.

Participants will have a month to develop their idea before they make their pitch on Oct. 20. The grand prize winners will meet with Gov. Tom Wolf.

Anyone can join

Even if you don’t have technology skills like coding, you can still participate in Code4PA.

Teams also need people who can work on the creative side, in marketing, or helping with project management, said Kelly Powell Logan of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, one of the event’s sponsors.

Logan previously served as secretary of the state Office of Administration under Gov. Tom Corbett. That department, as well as Wolf’s Opioid Command Center, are serving as event hosts. Other sponsors include Code for Philly, the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania, and Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center.

“The goal of this really is to bring as many different partners together thinking about the problem from many different aspects,” Logan said.

During the 2017 hackathon, 20 teams pitched ideas. The winners created a predictive model for traffic crashes based on weather forecasts and past collision data.

This year, Logan expects a diverse set of potential solutions to emerge. One team may create a data visualization that helps healthcare professionals understand patterns, she said, while another could build an app that shows treatment options.

“It’s about civic engagement,” she said, adding again that the event is not just for technologists but for “people passionate about fixing the problem.”

How to participate

Want to take part? You can register to participate, mentor, or volunteer here.

Code4PA is scheduled to take place at the below locations on Friday, Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check-in begins Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Presentations and judging will take place at the same locations Oct. 20 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Carnegie Mellon University Hamburg Hall
4800 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

The University of Pittsburgh
Graduate School of Public Health

130 De Soto Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Harrisburg University Harrisburg
326 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101

Harrisburg University Philly
1500 Spring Garden St
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Sarah Anne Hughes is based in Harrisburg for The Incline and Billy Penn as the sites’ first-ever state capitol reporter and is a 2018 corps member for Report...