Saving Lives at the Code4PA Competition

 Mentor - Kelly Fisher; Team - Ben Gilles, Briana Pierce, Chris Eby, Sikander Babwani, LaVonne Eby, and Brad Wilkie

Mentor - Kelly Fisher; Team - Ben Gilles, Briana Pierce, Chris Eby, Sikander Babwani, LaVonne Eby, and Brad Wilkie

We started as a group of 6 wanting to code and make a difference. In the end, we created an application that could help save lives from the opioid epidemic.

Every year GeoDecisions sponsors and participates in the local Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, coding competition. This year the Code4PA had a very important focus – create an app to help combat Pennsylvania’s opioid addiction. There were 28 teams split between Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. It was a two-part event. Part one took place on September 22. We listened to the experts and reviewed the available data sets to be used. Then we had a month to work on our idea and present it to a panel of judges on October 20 for a chance to win one of 10 prizes.

The goal was to help Pennsylvania effectively disperse funding in the most efficient way to the most affected areas. By October 20th we had created the foundation for a great, configurable tool that brought together a myriad of different databases into a single map. Pennsylvania’s Opioid Prevention Targeting Tool or POPTarT came to life using Esri’s ArcGIS Javascript version 4.9 and ArcGIS Online analysis tools. We also created a custom widget that allows users to add more data layers as these data sets become available. Based on the data sets that were available, POPTarT shows which areas are the most affected and would need the funding. POPTarT is highly configurable by the client because users can add in more data, change the weights of the data layers, and configure how they need to normalize the data sets all on their own.

More data sets, expert analysis, and reporting functions are needed to make this a completed product. The following is a link to the tool: POPTarT. Please remember this tool was created for this event and is still in development mode. It does not constitute a finished GeoDecisions’ product. If you are interested in making this tool a reality, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.

Some takeaways:

  • There is a lot of missing data that could help in this battle. 

  • More needs to be done to connect people who have overdosed with recovery resources.

  • A lot more work is needed in this space.