County of Marin - News Releases - Hack4Health

For Immediate Release
April 03, 2017

Students Hack Their Way to Health Solutions

Hack4Health in San Rafael draws inspired crowd of young people

San Rafael, CA – Eighty students happily hacked Saturday during the County of Marin’s first hackathon event, brainstorming and putting extensive Marin health data to use for the first time.

Six teens work on laptop computers as two Hack4Health volunteers assist them.A hackathon is generally a gathering of civic-minded residents who get together and work on creating an innovative solution in a short period of time.
The sold-out Hack4Health at the Marin County Office of Education in Terra Linda was designed to engage young people to help solve problems they see in their communities based on data provided by the Marin County Department of Information Services and Technology (IST) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The event was a major public roll-out for a new online statistical database called Marin County Open Data.

After hearing from keynote speakers Supervisor Damon Connolly and Public Health Officer Dr. Matthew Willis, the Hack4Health participants –

middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students from all over the Bay Area – hacked in harmony as they delved into data about opioid use, obesity and emergency medical services.

“It was a great time and the inspiring students exceeded our expectations,” said Rwena Holaday, Assistant Director of IST. “They were focused all day and came up with amazing ideas.”

County Administrator Matthew Hymel gave out the following prizes:

First Place, “Best Solution Supporting a Healthier Community” ($2,000 prize): Anish Singhani, Monte Vista High School of Danville. The Community Illness Predictor mobile app finds correlations between health hazards and sicknesses. The app predicts where illness outbreaks might occur based on health hazards such as illegal dumping, stagnant water, and unsanitary food facilities.

Second Place, “Best Mobile App” ($1,000): Kavi Dolasia, Tamalpais High School; Saar Lipshitz, Del Mar Middle School; Baraq Lipshitz, Del Mar Middle School. The ChewIQ health app is targeted at teens and kids to promote a healthy lifestyle through information about exercise and nutrition.

Third Place, “Best Use of Marin’s Open Data” ($500): Leonid Karashanoff, Sebastian Boyd, Duncan Grubbs, Max Oliver Starr, all of Sir Francis Drake High School. Optimizing Ambulance Response Times visualizes data from each ZIP code and plots ambulance location information to relocate them to areas most in demand.

Fourth Place, “Best Storytelling with Marin’s Open Data” ($500): Peter Sakai, Gate Academy, and Brandon Sakai, Redwood High School. Kindergarten Immunization Rates vs. Herd Immunity takes a look at whether school communities are protected by herd immunity. If a child can’t get a vaccination, the tools helps a parent find which schools would be best suited for them.

HHS Award – Kentaro Cookhorn, Del Mar Middle School; Rahman Owens, Mill Valley Middle School; Melina Johnston, St. Francis Solano School; and Nate Cohen, Del Mar Middle School, all part of the CoderDojo group sponsored by the Belvedere-Tiburon Library. Ready Laser gamifies exercise by allowing the user to gain points by exercising. It compares players on a leaderboard and allows for social exercise gatherings through laser tag. “Exercise apps are boring for teens, and we want to make exercise appealing for gamers and teens,” the coders wrote.

“Every winning project used one or more of the datasets from Marin County Open Data, which we launched three months ago to improve government transparency and to invite the community to use our data,” Holaday said. “It’s exciting that youths were the first ones to take advantage of this.”

A hackathon is generally a gathering of civic-minded residents who get together and work on creating an innovative solution in a short period of time, hacking in marathon fashion. Lots of municipalities and government agencies have adopted the hackathon concept to encourage its youth and community to participate in localized problem solving and learn more about what local government is doing for its residents.

For feedback on the Hack4Health event or to inquire about future hackathons, email


Wesley Hill
Principal Systems Analyst
Information Services and Technology Department

1600 Los Gamos Drive
Suite 370
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7439
Email: Wesley Hill
IST webpage