Emma Rens ’20 Participates in Smart City’s Saturday Hackathon

By Emma Rens ’20

Smart City Saturday is program for teens to partake in hackathons (both programming and non-programming) to help solve real world problems. Last Saturday, I attended a seven hour hackathon in the San Diego Library to help combat human trafficking.

We started off the workday by hearing a presentation from the UCSD Center of Design students and learning their Human Centered Design Process. Then we got into groups of five and met with our coaches to discuss the assigned challenge. While the Smart City Saturday’s overarching theme was human trafficking, my group’s individual challenge was to make sure everyone knowns the human trafficking hotline (1(888)373-7888). After about four hours of ideating, prototyping, and testing, we finally found a few core ideas and used the remaining two hours to finalize them in a presentation to the judges. The judges included twelve people of extremely varied backgrounds, including human traffic survivors and thrivers, UCSD professors, Qualcomm directors, and an NBC7 News Anchor.

Our solution for this problem included first integrating human-trafficking informational sessions into high school health classes across the country, and making it a requirement for students to memorize the hotline in order to pass. We tried to make memorizing the number easier through several mnemonics. We also focused on creating specific products displaying the number to give more people access to the number. Since 80% of trafficking victims are female, we proposed partnering with companies to print the number on women’s sanitation products. We created discreet posters in several languages to be placed in fast-food restaurants, spas, and hotel bathrooms, since these are all target places for human trafficking.

After presenting and waiting with great anxiety, my group ended up placing 2nd and winning $300!