Edmonton

Edmonton programmers launching virtual hackathon to combat COVID-19

Widespread event cancellations are not stopping Edmonton programmers from collaborating — virtually, of course — on apps that could help people handle the ramifications of COVID-19.

‘We’re trying to find a silver living in this situation,’ organizer Mark Bennett says

Edmonton programmers working together in the summer of 2019. (Mark Bennett)

Widespread event cancellations are not stopping Edmonton programmers from collaborating — virtually, of course — on apps that could help people handle the ramifications of COVID-19.

Members of the Dev Edmonton Society, a large network of local software developers, launched the hackathon, called CODEVID-19, on Monday.

Teams of developers and designers will compete for modest prizes each week until late April.

The competition is designed to inspire programmers to solve COVID-19-related problems in fields such as health care, education, retail and emergency management.

"If we can help out, that's what we're here for," Dev Edmonton Society president Mark Bennett said in an interview with CBC's Radio Active.

The virtual event was born during discussions in the society's Slack channel last week.

"We were all saying, we really want to help, but we don't really know what to build," Bennett said.

The society is encouraging people, including those without programming experience, to join the hackathon and suggest app ideas.

Bennett, who is currently working from home alongside his two elementary school-aged children, said developers are keen to share their skills for a good cause.

"This is a way that you can make a contribution and do something concrete," he said. "We're trying to find a silver living in this situation."

About the Author

Madeleine Cummings is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton.