(JNS) – Nearly 100 students from the Jerusalem College of Technology’s Tal and Lustig campuses for women, comprised of religious and Ultra-Orthodox students, completed a 44-hour online hackathon in which they designed and marketed innovative solutions for populations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The winning product, announced on June 19, was the design of a virtual platform to enable singles to interact in ways that resemble face-to-face dates.
In addition, the product also created interactive activities the potential couple could do together, like a simultaneous cooking competition, online card games and a spinning wheel for discussion topics.
In the religious and ultra-Orthodox communities, where partnership and marriage are of the utmost importance, COVID-19 has had a damaging impact as in-person dating has been impossible.
The winning team of more than 20 students created an innovative solution to try and make dating a reality, virtually. The product is launching in the dating world, but this platform and its interactive games can be expanded for relationship building of any kind.
Other challenges students were tasked with at the hackathon included building a platform for people to support small businesses by buying from them and donating the products to groups and organizations such as medical teams, security teams and nursing homes; improving access to medical and educational services for at-risk youths in times of crisis; linking artists and homebound populations for interactive performances; and creating a system to recruit massive numbers of volunteers for emergency situations.
Judges who evaluated the proposed technological solutions were Yonit Serkin, managing director of MassChallenge; Anat Greemland, vice president of strategy at Scale-Up Velocity; Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem; Galia Kut, an entrepreneur and investor, Efrat Weiss, director of Synamedia; and Michal Wosk, developers marketing manager at Microsoft.
“COVID-19 has created major challenges for small businesses, nonprofits and artists, teens-at-risk and young people looking to launch relationships. But it has also created incredible opportunities for new technologies and solutions to help those who need them most,” said Serkin. “The technologies built and developed by the students are a great illustration that ideas can come from everywhere, and that together, we can create new realities for our communities.”
While JCT’s annual hackathons are usually bustling, in-person events, the college replicated that environment remotely by shipping decorated boxes to participants that included hackathon T-shirts, coffee cups, water bottles, energy bars and special face masks for the competition. The hackathon’s focus on COVID-19 was an extension of “TakeAction,” a LevTech program that leverages the college’s resources to address emerging needs in social-service and emergency relief during the pandemic.
As part of TakeAction, JCT students, graduates, and faculty members have worked on technological solutions for the Magen David Adom emergency medical service; Zichron Menachem, which supports children with cancer and their families; and Melabev, which serves patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.