Life on Albany Street Hackathon


A hackathon is traditionally considered to be an event, lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming. The Activist Lab is applying that concept to real-world activism in public health.

This fall, the Activist Lab is hosting the first hackathon and the theme is Life on Albany. Where SPH stands on Albany Street, we are neighbors to people who are challenged by addictions, mental illness, and homelessness. Our goal is to bring together students, faculty, staff, and community partners to address one specific issue concerning this population, and how to solve it.

The topic of the day will be Safe Injection Sites in the City of Boston.

The morning session will be an exploration of the pros and cons of this current and important issue.  Several panelists with expertise on the issue will share their varying perspectives about it followed by an opportunity for panelists to circulate among the participants, who will be encouraged to interview the panelists, probing more deeply than a large group conversation can allow.

The goal of the afternoon session will be to explore how to implement a public health related intervention.  Specifically, we will provide participants to come up with concrete ideas and solutions for the following topics:

  • Strategy for funding and sustainability
  • Site selection
  • Engagement of stakeholders
  • Marketing
  • Technology (as a way of improving function of the site)
  • Safety (of clients, staff, community)

Participants will work in teams, with available technical consultants, to develop and present plans to achieve the goals of the project related to their specific topic.  A couple of weeks after the Hackathon, we will have a meeting in which we will present the recommendations to MA Commissioner of Public Health Monica Bharel and Executive Director of BPHC, Monica Valdes Lupi.  Participating students, faculty, and staff will be invited to attend.

By partnering with local organizations like Blackstone Community Center and Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, in addition to a wide array of Boston University partners, such as Questrom Business School and the College of Fine Arts, our goal is to foster new conversations, new perspectives, and new solutions to the very real challenges our neighbors on Albany Street face each day.

More information and registration details coming soon.