When a worldwide epidemic happens, it puts everyone on high alert. It can even go so far that people have to quarantine themselves in their homes, whether or not they’re sick so that the virus doesn’t get spread even further than it has. When that happens, as it did in 2020 when the COVID-19 virus started taking place. Edmonton, like pretty much every city, was on high alert, but that doesn’t mean that everyone stopped what they were doing completely. Those that work in the tech industry saw it, in fact, as an opportunity.

The (very small groups) have worked remotely to see if they could develop apps that would help in situations where emergencies like a widespread pandemic would arise. This includes what a city or province should do if there’s an emergency in terms of management, as well as options for retailers, schools and health care providers. “If we can help out, that’s what we’re here for,” said Mark Bennett. “We were all saying, we really want to help, but we don’t really know what to build.”

Being able to work from home, what’s known as the “hackathon” allows these tech developers to come up with the app ideas. “This is a way that you can make a contribution and do something concrete,” Bennett added. “We’re trying to find a silver lining in this situation.”

On Sundays, there’s a weekly prize for who is able to develop the best idea, with a final competition at the end. Once the winner is decided, the resources might be able to get investors to develop these apps further that can be used for future situations where a national emergency is declared. It was called the “world’s first pandemic hackathon,” and the hope is that there won’t be another one, at least we’ll have a good idea of how to manage thanks to the very first that was put into place.