hack4impact

Hack4Impact is working on a service they hope will streamline the voting process at polling stations on Election Day.

Photo: Ananya Chandra / The Daily Pennsylvanian

A Penn Engineering club is focused on making its mark on this year’s presidential election.

The non-profit group Hack4Impact provides innovative technical solutions to modern-day problems other non-profit organizations face. In the past, they’ve worked to improve the distribution of food at Reading Terminal Market and the services for a local civil rights organization. But now that Hack4Impact has grown in size and presence in the greater Philadelphia area, the club’s leaders have chosen to expand their services across the country.

The group recently partnered with the TrustTheVote Project, a Bay Area-based non-profit, on a service called BusyBooth. Wharton and Engineering junior Krishna Bharathala said the project’s mission is to crowd-source waiting times at polling stations on Election Day, in order to minimize the time each voter must wait.

The app helps voters avoid long lines by distributing them effectively across multiple polling booths. The app uses real-time data from polling locations to determine when voter traffic is highest. BusyBooth also includes a social media component so that people can send out short messages to the community when the waiting lines are too long.

The group hopes their app will incentivize more voters to participate in the general election this November. Since Hack4Impact is working with a company from San Francisco, the app will launch this year in various counties in California. Depending on its success this year, the group expects the BusyBooth platform to continue to be used in local, state and national elections in the future.

But BusyBooth is not the group’s first project that has gained recognition in the area. After Reading Terminal Market approached Hack4Impact, the group created an app streamlining orders to improve the communication between food distribution companies and the dozens of “mom and pop stores” that conduct business there, Hack4Impact external relations chair and Engineering junior Yoni Nachmany said.

Internal leaders of the Hack4Impact proudly noted that they received recognition from the mayor of Philadelphia for their work on the project.

The group is now searching for other projects they can work on as they proceed to finalize and implement BusyBooth in this year’s presidential election.

Engineering junior Kasra Koushan said he joined Hack4Impact for a “great and tight-knit group of people who are working on meaningful projects.”

“We’re a very strong community of students ... who want to make apps, make friends and make an impact,” Nachmany concluded.

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