Pitt Public health students competed and won at Code4PA code-a-thon competition


Code4PA is a yearly event that brings together Pennsylvania's technical community to generate new ideas on how to increase efficacy of public engagement with the government. The event gives the tech community a chance to meet new people, learn new technology, build prototypes and apps, and have fun. 

This year's mission was to look at data on the opioid crisis and develop new strategies to fight the epidemic. Community members, hackers, coders, students, and faculty were invited to utilize data from the open data portal to generate ideas that will help Pennsylvania turn data into meaningful insights. Participants used the state’s open data and paired it with IT and public health knowledge to form useful interventions for state decision makers and the public.
The event was hosted across 4 locations; Harrisburg University in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, Carnegie Mellon University, and Pitt Public Health. The first part of the event took place September 21-22. Participants formed their teams, started developing their ideas, and began planning for the pitch day. Teams of two to six members were challenged focus their ideas on one of three tracks: preventing opioid use disorder, saving lives, or ensuring access to treatment.  
During the weekend, teams were assigned a think tank location and were also able to network and consult with experts. MICHAEL MALLON (BCHS '13), project coordinator for opioid initiatives at Pitt Public Health, said, "...watching the teams in action over the first weekend was fun and encouraging! I have been impressed with their critical thinking, observations, and exploration into the data and systems at work in this crisis." 
Pitch day took place on October 20. Winners of the regional round in the morning went on to compete for 10 prizes in the final round later that afternoon. Teams only had 5 minutes to present their idea for each round, with an extra 2-3 minutes for questions. In total, there were 162 participants split across 28 teams. Two teams of Pitt Public Health students won prizes in the final round.

Picture of Converge2Health TeamConverge2Health - Best Use of a Case/Visualization

Doctoral students, HUANG LIN (BIOS '20), QING YIN (BIOS '21), LINGYUN LYU (BIOS '22), and Yannan Yuan (School of Computing and Information), developed a web app for law makers, educators, and support groups that will visualize data into mappings and heatmaps, as well as highlight trends and factors affecting the opioid epidemic. The goal of the project was to identify the counties and subgroups that need the most support in fighting this epidemic. 


Picture of Compasspoint team

ComPAsspoint - Best Use of Esri Technology

A doctoral student, GARRY SMYDA (BIOS '22), and five UPMC Health Plan staff used various data sources to identify treatment deserts. They propose incentivizing doctors and established health care providers to prescribe buprenorphine in order to improve access to treatment.

Congratulations to everyone that participated and won prizes! Read more about Code4PA and each team that participated in this year’s event.

 Pitt Public Health is dedicated to addressing knowledge gaps of the opioid epidemic and developing initiatives to decrease, what Burke et al. (2018) found as, the exponential growth in opioid drug overdoses. Read more about prevention research, events, and other news related to the opioid work happening at Pitt.


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