Hacking health through instant cloud

hacking health2This past weekend, Cybera participated as a partner and mentor in the Calgary Hacking Health event. Hacking Health is similar to other hackathons: groups of volunteers come together to pitch ideas and collaboratively work on the chosen projects over a period of a few days. What makes Hacking Health different, though, is that the projects and ideas are focused on creating solutions and technologies for health care.

We felt that Cybera's Rapid Access Cloud (RAC) would be a helpful tool for the participants: the ability to rapidly create virtual infrastructure could be used in a variety of ways: from web and database hosting, to data storage and analytics.

To our delight, the team at W21C '€” who hosted the event '€” were more than happy to offer the RAC to participants, and it was very well received. Several teams signed up to use the free compute resources to help build their projects.

In addition to attending the start of the hackathon to explain how RAC works, I volunteered my Saturday as a Developer Mentor to the Hacking Health participants. I had a great time hearing about the novel ideas for improving healthcare, as well as giving input on how different solutions could be approached.

For example, one team wanted to build an animal health-related social networking site. They chose to use an existing social networking framework to build their site, but quickly found that not all features they wanted were included out of the box. We discussed the risks and work involved with building an entirely custom-made social network site versus reviewing and learning the existing framework code to implement the custom solutions.

Another project wanted to share medical images with a wider community for easier diagnostics in remote areas. We talked about the different storage platforms for sharing images as well as different methods for uploading an image to share. When thinking about sharing images, several modern methods such as phone apps or web forms come to mind. But in third-world countries with limited technologies, something as simple as an email with an image attached could be used instead.

The group that ended up winning the most awards was IMOK. They developed a portal for collecting medical contacts, documents and updates in one accessible place '€” a great solution for concerned family members of those coping with chronic or deteriorating health conditions.

The Calgary Hacking Health event was definitely a lot of fun and a great learning experience. It was inspiring to see so many people volunteer their time to build and create solutions that would better the health of everyone. It was also great to see our Rapid Access Cloud so well received and utilized during this event.