Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security

Hacking4Humanity 2019

Thank you to everyone that participated in Hacking4Humanity 2019! 

View the winners and check out the video compilation of the hackathon below!

Thank you to the Ford Insitute for Human Security students at GSPIA for their work. For more on hackathon outcomes and the other projects, please see their final report


Hacking 4 Humanity

1st Annual Hacking4Humanity

Friday, March 22, 2019

3rd Floor, Information Sciences Building
135 N Bellefield Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Create prototypes to address the challenge of ending human trafficking.

This 24-hour hackathon is open to all area university students; no technical expertise is required. OCC credit available to Pitt students!

Eventbrite - Hacking4Humanity


Pitt Cyber, the School of Computing and Information, and GSPIA’s Ford Institute for Human Security are hosting a multidisciplinary hackathon. At Pitt, we believe that no one discipline has a lock on effective solutions to big problems. This is why we’re announcing our first annual Hacking4Humanity event.

Each year, we’ll pick seemingly intractable problems that call out for solutions from across disciplines—and ask you, the students, to dive in. Students from Pitt are invited to compete, as are students from other regional universities. Teams are required to have at least one participant from outside the others’ field of study.

This year’s problem – Human Trafficking

Today, more than 40 million people around the world are trapped in modern slavery—including sex trafficking, forced and bonded labor, and involuntary domestic servitude. Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor or a commercial sex act. While accurate estimates are difficult, there are roughly 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States alone, including here in Pittsburgh. Ending modern slavery is a moral imperative; and it’s also a national security threat. Human trafficking generates more than $150 billion in illicit profits each year. These profits help fuel criminal cartels and terrorist networks. And trafficking isn’t just part of the illicit economy, it’s part of your everyday economy. Supply chains are rife with goods involving labor by trafficked individuals.

Challenge scenarios, developed by GSPIA students, will be shared at the event to guide the development of teams' hacks, and include problems related to:

  • Raising awareness
  • Prosecuting traffickers
  • Supporting survivors

Goal:  Develop a tool to combat human trafficking and/or assist survivors.


Graduate and undergraduate students from Pitt are invited to compete, as are students from other regional universities. Feel free to come with a team or take advantage of team formation after the kickoff. Teams are required to have at least one participant from outside the others’ field of study.


  1. Work only in the designated workspace. Be sure to maintain a clean hacking environment.
  2. Be respectful of all participants. Harassment and abuse will not be tolerated. If you believe this rule has been violated, please report it to an organizer.
  3. Teams should be no more than four members and include at least one participant outside the others' field of study.
  4. Teams may not use or incorporate any inappropriate or unlawful content into hacks. If you have questions, consult with a hackathon organizer or mentor.
  5. All project components must be created during Hacking4Humanity. Third party services, APIs, open source projects, and frameworks are permitted to be utilized if credited during presentations.
  6. All projects must be submitted to DevPost by 5:00 pm on Saturday.

Judging Criteria

  1. Potential for Impact
  2. Impact Limited to Relevant Population
  3. Technical Difficulty
  4. Originality
  5. Progress
  6. User Experience


Friday, March 22, 2019
4:00 – 4:30 pm – Registration (dinner available)
4:30 – 5:00 pm – Team Formation
5:00 pm – Kickoff with keynote speaker David Hickton, Pitt Cyber founding director
5:30 pm – Hacking begins!
6:00 pm – Doors lock in the Information Sciences Building

Saturday, March 23, 2019
6:00 am – Doors unlock
9:00 am - Tech Talk Breakfast | Deloitte Presents: "Cyber Everywhere - Are You Prepared?" with Sharon Philip and Steve Ruzzini, Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory
12:30 pm – Tech Talk Lunch | PNC Presents: "Follow the Money: How the Financial Industry Disrupts Human Trafficking" with Bryan Chapman, CAMS
5:00 pm – Hacking ends - projects due to DevPost (dinner available)
5:30 pm – 6:30pm – Project expo 
7:00 pm – Awards & Closing Ceremony

Background Resources

Basic background about human trafficking:
Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage
Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2018 - US Department of State
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, July 2018 - United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

International conventions:
International Conventions Relevant to Combating Trafficking in Persons
US Federal Laws and Policy Tools

Advocacy organizations:
Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR)
Polaris Project 
Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking

Some existing tech-based initiatives:
Slavery Footprint
Traffick Cam
Traffic Jam


Oculus VR Headset
Apple TV 4K
Bose Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Volunteer as a Mentor!

All mentor spots are filled - thank you for your interest and support!

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here to view the FAQ.

If you have additional questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to Pitt Cyber at

Hosted by:

Pitt Cyber     University of Pittsburgh School of Computing and Information    GSPIA


PAARAllegheny County Department of Human Services