The Together Vs Virus Hackathon COVID-19 Challenges

Six winning teams came up with concepts to help people during hard times


Over 500 hackathon participants came together to help communities struggling during the pandemic on April 17 and 18.

Their goal was to work together to come up with useful and creative technology solutions that would help communities adapt and deal with effects of the pandemic.

The 48-hour competition produced six winning teams, all with different focus areas and ideas, who were awarded $1,000 each.

One of the winning teams was Heropool, a safe carpooling platform for workers in nursing homes and long-term care facilities to help reduce the risk of transmission. The app pulls from a pool of volunteers to supply workers with a low-risk ride home.

Based in Toronto, Heropool was founded by its chairman and CEO, Mike Garnett, along with his team.

“We feel as though transportation mobility is something that’s overlooked in this crazy time,” says Garnett. “I think that a lot of the care workers … take public transit to get to and from work and they don’t really have a choice.”

He says healthcare workers are stepping up to keep the most vulnerable people safe, but in doing so, they run the risk of introducing the virus to the facilities they work in.

Another winning team was Allyship, a website which provides trauma-sensitive support for healthcare workers. Just behind them in the ranks was Soci’s Hunt, a blockchain-based  rewards platform which encourages people to volunteer.

Health Risk is a winning team that helps prevent burnout among healthcare workers by identifying signs of burnout and making suggestions.

Toby Messier is a medical doctor and one of the 10 organizers of My Health Risk.

“Burnout and personal exhaustion [are] very, very prevalent among healthcare workers and more,” he says. “The whole COVID situation puts extra pressure on health care workers.”

According to Current Opinion in Critical Care, “based on most recent studies, severe burnout syndrome…is present in about 50 [per cent] of critical care physicians and in one third of critical care nurses.”

“I think part of the reason that happens is that, with all the pressure on healthcare professionals to take care of others, there is rarely time to sit back and reflect about themselves,” he says.

He and his team are still testing the application before publicly launching it.

Another team determined to help is E-safe. They produced software which helps create a safe working environment for employees in manufacturing plants using artificial intelligence and thermal visualization.

SpringOut allows victims of domestic violence to safely call for help. The app provides options for people quarantined or isolated with abusive people and connects them with employee assistance programs through Slack.

“The employees can then use the app, which generates a false website where they can get the resources and links they need in a discrete way,” says Mattias Henders, SpringOut Project Lead.

He says his team consists of six people who are still working to develop the application.

“It definitely was not a solo mission,” says Henders. “It’s thanks to my team that we were able to win.”


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