Austin hosts weekend ‘hackathon’ to solve homeless ID issues

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city will host a get-together this weekend for developers and coders to find solutions to problems facing the homeless population related to medical and other documents they need.

Tech teams will gather at the Faulk Library starting Friday to work with service providers and people using simulated data and documents to develop digital identification to keep important records in one place.

The city is looking for teams with “the tech brain and the Austin heart” to figure out ways to eliminate the need for paper documents that get lost or stolen and can be difficult to replace.

Instead, project organizers envision a digital ID, using a fingerprint, facial recognition, or some other biometric marker to access medical data and other private info no matter where a person is.

Homelessness service providers say that will make it easier for people to get the care and help they need.

The hackathon comes as the city refines an idea to use blockchain technology to create a digital ID for homeless people as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2018 Mayor’s Challenge.

KXAN first reported on the plan earlier this year, and next month the city will re-submit its proposal before winners are announced in October. Four winning cities will receive $1 million to implement their problem-solving ideas, and the grand prize winner will receive $5 million.

The weekend event challenges teams to come up with solutions based on case scenarios the city has been sending out. Ideas need to address bulk document uploads, opt-in processes, and blockchain, among other concerns.

Teams will work all day Saturday and demo their final products on Sunday.

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