BYU team wins hackathon with novel app idea

This month a team of BYU information technology and computer science students won the top prize in their category at CourtHack, a regional hackathon competition.

Their app, SecurCity, helps law enforcement officers serve court documents more efficiently by using geo-positioning technology. Police officers typically have to serve documents using pre-planned routes and extra scheduled time, which they don’t always have. SecurCity gives them a clear map of nearby addresses that need to be served documents, making the serving process simpler and less time-consuming.

“If they’re on a route somewhere or they’ve got 15 minutes before lunch, they can see who is close and who they can serve right now, print [the court documents] out in their squad vehicle and do it,” said BYU team member Niles Tanner, an information technology major.

Over the course of the 22 hour-long hackathon, the team brought this idea to life and presented it to a panel of entrepreneurs and legal professionals, including Justice Constandinos Himonas of the Utah Supreme Court.

Roughly 100 participants, including students and software engineers, competed at the CourtHack hackathon and were challenged to create the best solution in one of four categories. The BYU team chose the Wild Card category, where teams can use their own approach for making the court system more efficient.

“I think the idea wasn’t complete and isn’t complete,” said team member Blaine Backman, a computer science major. “We had the base idea, but we’re still adding to it and changing it based on needs.”

Along with a $2,500 cash prize, the team will get to further develop the app at a four-week mentoring program in San Francisco. They will also have the opportunity to present their app at the e-Courts conference in Las Vegas this December.

“We’ve been given a great opportunity from One Legal in San Francisco, where we get to talk to both the clients as well as the users of this app and learn how it’ll affect both of them,” Backman said. “I think that keeping that mentality of, ‘This isn’t the perfect idea, but it has potential to get there,’ we’re using the right tools to make it the best it can be.”

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