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Preparing for disasters through tech

The University of Newcastle, in Australia, recently held its annual Hackathon or problem-solving challenge called the Integrated Innovation Network (I2N).

Disaster resilience was the focus for this year, which asked participants to find solutions that leave communities less vulnerable when disaster strikes.

According to a recent press release, Disaster Master was awarded the Best Tech Solution for Disaster Resilience.

Becoming disaster resilient through tech

It is a mobile-based application that gamifies challenges based on real disaster situations to educate people on how to prevent, prepare, respond and recover from natural and man-made disasters.

Moreover, it is an app that encompasses mini games based on real disaster situations. It also includes opportunities to progress, join local teams and compete with others.

Even better, the app allows users to send out an SOS notification to the relevant emergency services, informing where they are and the type of assistance they need during real-life disaster situations.

The project aims to empower people to manage disasters, build a strong community, and optimise disaster relief resources.

The Hackathon

During the two-day event at the University’s New Space city campus, 40 participants, having 50% female representation, formed eight teams.

They had the opportunity to learn from disaster resilience experts and technical mentors before embarking on a 10-hour ‘hack’ to evolve their ideas into a viable, technological solution.

The event aims to build enterprise skills among the community and was supported by the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Program, among others.

The Winners

The winning team was comprised of multi-disciplinary professionals in civil and software engineering, a University of Newcastle IT student and a University alumnus who had never met before the event.

The team had won A$ 3,000 and will each receive a three-month residency at the University’s I2N Hub Hunter Street, including specialist mentorship.

The team that was awarded Best Runner-Up Tech Solution received A$ 2,000 for their project U-Help, which uses blockchain to track donations made to charities.

By utilising blockchain, the process of donating becomes more transparent, with every transaction viewed and tracked as a ledger.

The project aims to encourage more donors to feel comfortable donating to help those that are affected by natural disasters.

Meanwhile, the Rising Star Award, together with A$ 500, were given to the team who created a microgrid solution called Community Power.

Having energy supply is critical for people during disaster times, mainly for communication purposes and use of any medical equipment.

The goal is coordinate the wind energy with other energy sources that are vulnerable in their own ways and via the information sharing technology, utilise wind power to improve the communities’ disaster resilience ability.

Other participants

The other projects developed during the hackathon also developed noteworthy projects.

Mud Army calls registered volunteers by SES in a time of disaster. The SES pinpoints an evacuation location on a map and volunteers are given a list of tasks they can do.

The Disaster Resilience Intelligence Solution (DRIS) is a system that provides an initial resource demand based on similar past world events when a new disaster is registered.

Empowering Communities for Emergency/Disaster Resilience (E=MC2) is an app that is structured into three levels of community engagement:  Standard, Community, and Business versions.

Rescue Safe Solar improves disaster resilience by creating safer houses, safer emergency services, connectedness and increased confidence in solar.

Aware is a collaborative database that maps assets of a community to improve disaster awareness and allow responders to be better coordinated and therefore more effective.


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