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Hackathon: Building to Make a Difference

June 8, 2015 / Global

Since announcing our partnership with Coding Dojo last month, our team’s been busy with the students both inside and outside of the classroom. Last week, we decided to try something new by challenging the students in the San Jose office to a 48 hour hackathon. Over 60 students and alumni from the area participated to see which team would get the exclusive chance to visit our HQ in San Francisco.

With 48 hours on the clock, students were challenged to build an app that not only leveraged the Uber API, but also create a positive impact in the community or a non-profit organization of their choice. Khahn Russo (Director of Strategic Partnerships and Sr. Policy Advisor in the San Jose Mayor’s Office), members of the Uber API team, and several Coding Dojo staff judged each project based on design, originality, effective use of the API, and impact in the community.

And the winner is…

Although it may be hard to imagine a world without smartphones, this is the reality for most of the world. Team Textber (Arash, Josh, Uyanga, Jeff, and Tarun) decided to solve this issue by creating an app that allowed users to access services like Uber without the need of a smartphone.

Using our Request endpoint, Twilio API, and several other services, the team was able to create an app that requests an Uber via SMS. The only thing that the user has to do to get started is authenticate and input their phone number. Once setup is complete, users can simply text their location and destination in the app and an Uber will be on its way to pick them up. The team even noted that with some additional time, they would have included a speech-to-text feature which would also allow users to request an Uber using voice commands.

Impact begins with an idea

The rest of the teams that competed in the hackathon did a phenomenal job, but there were two teams in particular that performed exceptionally well (Rides4Kidz and Guerilla Love).

Rides4Kidz was a non-profit app that helped children get home safely from school. Using Uber’s Request endpoint, the team allowed schools to effortlessly request rides for groups of 2–6 kids, making sure that each child could return home safely with a trusted chaperone. Guerilla Love was an app that helped more people get to their community events by providing volunteers with a ride. Users can browse what events they are interested in and others can help fund these events so that volunteers can easily get to and from without worry.

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