Cincinnati first responders, recovery experts get fresh ideas from tech community

CINCINNATI -- More than 50 people and nine teams competed against each other this weekend with one goal in mind: hacking heroin.

First responders and recovery experts went to Cintrifuse's Union Hall to share the challenges of their work, in hopes of finding some fresh ideas. Teams of hackers had 24 hours to come up with a solution.

"I think there's a huge value to bring different players to the table who aren't involved and you have a little bit of that naive innovation," participant Jamie Maier said.

Maier's team came up with an idea to connect first responders with recovery centers and hospitals, through an app, to get someone the help they need more quickly.

"Our idea, in the ideal world, would be that the time (between) when someone decides they want to see treatment and when they receive that treatment would be zero," Maier said.

RESOURCE: More information on getting help

Emily Geiger, managing director of Spry Labs, helped organize the hackathon and said it exceeded everyone's expectations.

"It's energizing, and I hear that feedback from the folks who are on the frontline already -- to see the bright, new, fresh ideas come in and provide new energy and hope," Geiger said.

Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld said the fight against heroin must be an all-hands-on-deck situation.

"We have this incredibly talented segment of the community -- developers, coders, designers -- so the idea really is how can we bring their talents to bear on this epidemic on this crisis," he said.

The winning team will present its ideas to Cincinnati City Council's Education and Entrepreneurship Committee on Tuesday. Spry Labs and Cintrifuse are working to find funding, so they can bring the ideas to the field.

"Being able to come in and just learn and dive into problem has a lot of benefits, instead of having looked at it for years and years and try to tackle it in a new way," Maier said.

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