If you’re in college and you’re tech savvy (and what college student isn’t these days?), you should think about entering a new competition organized by the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering. They are asking students to identify a health problem in their community and design a mobile app that, according to Food Safety News, “harnesses available data to help people make healthier, more informed choices.”
Ummmm, “health problem,” let’s see… can someone say “The consumption of a meat-centric diet leading to high rates of cancer? Or heart disease? Or obesity?” While they are looking for a problem affecting your specific community, let’s face it, no matter what community you are in, the Standard American Diet (a.k.a. the “SAD” diet), featuring meat, dairy and eggs, is no doubt wreaking havoc on the health of its residents. You literally have your pick of dozens of health-related harms that can be traced to this disastrous diet.
According to the Institute of Medicine’s description of the challenge (which is also where you want to go to get involved), the challenge has three parts:
- Identify a health problem (e.g., smoking, obesity, vaccination rates, health disparities, mental health, access to care, palliative care) in your college’s or university’s surrounding community.
- Assemble an interdisciplinary student team to create an app or other product using data from the HHS Health Indicators Warehouse and other sources (e.g., including crowdsourcing methods).
- Demonstrate how your solution could engage people in your community to promote action that will improve their health and health care.
You must apply by April 27, and it looks like they want you to work in “interdisciplinary teams that meld technological skills with health knowledge, [and] can generate powerful new products — the next ‘viral app’ — to improve health for communities and individuals.”
Okay kids, time to get crackin’! The three winning teams not only receive a monetary reward, but a funded trip to Maryland to present your idea at the Health Data Initiative at the National Institutes of Health. And remember, even if you don’t win the challenge, you can still use your app for the greater good. We all know how much I love app-tivism.