With 3D printers and moving tables, a community space at Union Baptist Church in Upton is outfitted to give West Baltimore kids exposure to technology.
On Saturday, it provided space for about a dozen kids to interact with police officers, and address issues in the community.
The daylong Protect & Serve Hackathon was designed to add a civic element to the idea that tech can be used to solve a problem.
Beyond creating a new social media app, the organizers wanted to show that tech “is something that could be utilized to have an impact in our community, and other communities,” said Wendell Mosby, Senior Vice President of Chicago-based Blue1647.
The organization is holding a series of issue-oriented hackathons in various cities like San Diego, St. Louis and Queens, N.Y., Mosby said. The seeds of the Baltimore event came during a visit by Blue1647 representatives last year, where they met the Rev. Dr. Alvin Hathaway Sr. of Union Baptist Church. For the hackathon, Code in the Schools, Cross Street Partners and other local groups signed on to help organize.
After hearing from a pair of Baltimore police officers, the kids participating completed mind maps for potential solutions, then turned to their projects. One group was working on a website to track police brutality cases, and provide a forum where people can comment to raise awareness of what they see in the community.