Hacking the Outbreak

  • February 14, 2019

More than half of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019 are infectious disease challenges, both emerging and historic, according to the World Health Organization which released the list last month.

On Feb. 16, Cal State East Bay will host its annual science and technology "Hack Day" which aims to find solutions to those threats.

“Hack the Outbreak” brings together teams of students from various disciplines to build rapid prototype solutions that use land-based or flying drones to fight  infectious disease outbreaks.

Organizers say the event is about creating a place where future scientists, engineers, clinicians and designers can collaborate in order to develop novel solutions to complex problems. Whether it’s raising awareness, gathering data, delivering solutions, or the like, they say all ideas are welcome.

Hack days started in the software development industry in an effort to bring people of diverse backgrounds together for collaborative problem solving. They've since been used successfully in a variety of industries and offer unique opportunities for small groups to collaborate on focused tasks for a short period of time producing remarkable results.

The 2019 Hack the Outbreak event will be held on the Hayward campus in the University Union (UU-1001) from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will begin with a series of 10-minute motivational "flash talks" on subject areas such as drone programming, infectious disease, epidemiology and public health. After the short presentations, participants will break out into groups to brainstorm and develop their prototype or "hack.” Academic and industry experts will rotate throughout the event amongst the teams to provide feedback and technological assistance.

Each group will be provided with either a flying or land-based drone as a means towards their “hack” solution. Flying drones will have access to an enclosed, netted area and will be flown by licensed volunteer pilots, while land drones will have a fenced area and a medical simulation tent. The teams will use these areas to test and present the "hacks" that they develop during the course of the day.