Connect with Health in your Hood
Where can you grab a healthy meal a few blocks from your house? attend a class without hopping in a car? find a workout buddy? and where is there a Farmers' Market you can bike to?
Good health is closer than you think and an app is helping residents of Santa Ana, Anaheim and Garden Grove find good health near them.
The Alliance for a Healthy OC and Downtown Inc. are releasing a web app as part of Hack for Health, a series of community engagements around health and technology.
What does the app do?
Yealthy helps you find healthy food and activities around you by pulling results from open data provided by Yelp.com. "The app is like a healthy version of Yelp for North OC," said Ryan Smolar who built Yealthy and helped administer the Hack for Health program as Hacker-in-Chief.
To use Yealthy, you enter your address and the type of healthy activity you're interested in and whether you plan to walk, bike or drive/take transit. "We included a broad list of activities as healthy," said Smolar, "because the community said health is more than just a physical activity."
When you open Yealthy, it defaults to 1st Street and Main Street in Santa Ana, California. From there, you can quickly find gyms, yoga classes, libraries and community centers, healthy restaurants, a farmers market and more. Enter your own address and see all the healthy activities you can walk, bike or drive and take transit to with ease.
If something you think should be on the list, please let us know. If something should not be included, please let us know. To get listed in Yealthy, a healthy place has to be on Yelp, have above 3.5 star rating and be categorized correctly.
Why build an app to help people find healthy food and activities?
The Hack for Health was part of a multi-million dollar Center for Disease Control OC PICH grant that brings together health agencies and community partners to improve health in North OC. The idea of creating a hack-a-thon and app as part of this program was initiated by the Alliance for a Healthy OC and executed by Downtown Inc.
The idea for an app that connects locals with healthy activities and food stemmed from a focus group of OC PICH grant partners. The idea was later confirmed as relevant at a community Pitchfest where we built a model of Santa Ana (using donated supplies from the Child Creativity Lab) and observed the barriers to health in our neighborhoods.
"It's amazing to ask people to build a model of something," said Smolar, "and to see what they know and what they don't know." Community members quickly identified their school, their local park and a landmark or two, but weren't as connected to gyms, health and sports stores, youth services, doctors and medical information, religious organizations or healthy restaurants and markets.
Now that the app is available, we need to get the word out. Help us spread tell people about the app and to start learning about the good health activities in their neighborhood. We are interested in your feedback on how to improve the app and have planned improvements including automatic location detection. If you are interested in future civic hacking projects, please contact us.
Thanks the numerous partners who contributed to this project and worked hard to make it a success:
Santa Ana Public Library TeenSpace
Marklem Valdoinos, Regional Director, Multicultural Initiatives, American Heart Association
Kurt Arnlund, Director of Mobile Development at Thync
Bill Fennessy, Director of Community Engagement and Work-Based Learning, Think Together
Ryan Smolar, Hacker-in-Chief, Hack for Health
Participants & Collaborators
Alliance for a Healthy OC
City of Santa Ana
Dino Perez, Art Advisor
Kurt Arlund, Tech Advisor
Nelson Alonso, Library Liasion & Videographer
Child Creativity Lab
Alta Baja Market
OC Burrito Project
Pitchfest, Moises Vazquez, "Youth Services App"
Hack-a-thon, three-way tie, see results here.
Story by Ryan Smolar
We came. We Saw. We Hacked.
It was a simple idea: bring the community and app developers together to explore how technology can help overcome barriers to health in Orange County.
13 pitches, 6 semi-finalist ideas, and 3 development teams later, and you have a trio of app prototypes that truly test how technology and community knowledge can work together to solve a key issue: access to better choices and health information where you're at.
Next Steps - Hack for Health and Hack-a-Thons
The Next Hack-a-thon
The prototype apps developed through this process show a lot of promise to be developed into full-fledged apps. Special thanks to Sabio coding academy who helped recruit so much talent for the Hack-a-thon. They have offered to help provide a fresh batch of recruits every 12 weeks.
"We participate in Hack-a-thons," said Victor Campos, still tired from the City of San Diego 24 hour Hack-a-Thon he had just left hours before arriving in OC, "the Hack for Health was a great fit for us. We'll be back."
What's your idea for the next hack?
Hack for Health
Hack for Health will be releasing a fully-developed web app called Yealthy that helps connect you North OC residents with healthy food and activities in their neighborhoods via walking, bike or car/transit.
Story by Ryan Smolar
6 App Ideas to Make OC Healthier
Last Saturday, community members gathered to pitch ideas for an app that makes OC healthier. Check out the video pitches favored by our Hack for Health judges and help us decide which apps to build this Saturday at the Hack for Health: Hack-a-thon. Which healthy app idea would you like to see us bring to life?
What's your favorite app idea?
Help us decide which apps get prioritized at the Hack for Health: Hack-a-thon. Which healthy app idea would you bring to life?
Special thanks to our Judges for the Pitchfest
Story by Ryan Smolar
Hack for Health: Pitchfest
Community members gathered to create ideas for an app that make Orange County healthier.
Hack for Health: Pitchfest kicked off our civic hack project to make Orange County healthier at the Santa Ana Public Library TeenSpace. This civic engagement hack intended to get inspire more connections and collaboration around better health outcomes for our city.
We dove right into this project, creating a model of the city to help attendees identify barriers to health and how they can overcome them.
Different types of people attended the event: those interested in health, community engagement, family, youth, technology and great conversations were had.
We built a giant model of the city together. First we laid the streets, then the parks and schools, landmarks, In-N-outs, churches, businesses, and houses. Even the freeway and the Discovery Cube and homeless encampment sites made it into the model.
Each attendee filled in the details of their specific neighborhood: where gas stations, apartments, retailers like Target and other important places were.
After the map was pretty filled-in, we could make observations about what makes us healthier. Ideas beyond the landscape were mapped from our community knowledge including where the homeless encampments are.
Pitch teams took their ideas to pen and paper and drew out their concepts.
The Pitch teams recorded their ideas for judges to pick the best ideas to be built at Hack for Health: Hack-a-thon. The videos were shot by City of Santa Ana Parks, Recreation, and Public Libraryvolunteers who are trained in media production
A TeenSpace Coordinator, Nelson, cut the pitch videos together on the fly to make the Pitch teams look great. He helped produce the whole event as the Library liasion.
Dino Perez and Ryan Smolar will take the best ideas to a panel of Judges to decide which one will be built at the Hack for Health: Hack-a-thon. Stay tuned!
Thanks for everything! We had an amazing time! Check out the pitch ideas that emerged here: 6 App Ideas for OC: which do you want built?
Special Thanks to Helpers & Supporters
Special thanks to Nelson Alonso, Cheryl Andrea, Cat Torres, Saidy Valdez and all the amazing team and friends of TeenSpace, Child Creativity Lab for helping us with supplies for our model of Santa Ana, OC Burrito Project for keeping us well-fed, Dino Perez for co-piloting the ship with great ideas and energy and our partners at Alliance for a Healthy Orange County and OC PICH!
Story by Ryan Smolar
Help fight OC's vast health disparities
The old real estate adage "if you lived here, you'd be home by now" comes to mind while reflecting on the northern half of Orange County. It's home to a rich tapestry of global cultures, 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, historic neighborhoods, and innovative colleges. North OC is where America's history and future merge.
North OC is also facing modern challenges impacting the health of its residents. In a study called "Orange County on the Cusp of Change," UCI researchers explain the disparities between North and South Orange County and illustrate the need to improve the quality of life of north OC families and children. Through a new project called "Hack for Health," community members will utilize our perspectives and experiences to attack the gap in OC health disparities by building an app that makes north OC healthier. Let's take a moment to go through UCI's important research.
Who Lives in North OC?
According to UCI, "People of color are the new majority in Orange County, but disproportionately face issues such as poverty, language isolation, and educational attainment challenges." The US Census sasy 34 percent of the county is Latino and 19 percent is Asian, and that most people of color live in low-income areas of North and Central OC: almost half of the county's Latinos live in Santa Ana while North OC also has the largest Vietnamese and third largest population of Asian Pacific-Islanders in the country.
As you can see in the graph above, OC's population growth is in the Latino and Asian populations, intensifying the health and wealth issues adversely affecting the majority of OC's young families and children.
Pollution Disproportionately Harms North OC Residents
UCI's report explains that "North Orange County cities are at the top 10% of communities in California most burdened with pollution." In addition to the poor air quality above, poor park access is also a North County epidemic with zip code 92701 (downtown Santa Ana area) listed as the park-poorest in the county.
Poverty adds to the Challenge
Poverty exacerbates the challenges North OC communities face where one third of residents "experience financial instability, income and rent burden," according to the study, and "Latino families had twice the rate of poverty than the county average."
The graph above shows the income gap between North OC and South County while the graph below reminds us who is affected by these disparities: as the graph illustrates percentages of children enrolled in school on the federal free or reduced lunch program, giving them basic access to food while they study.
The problem is clear: now what can we do about it?
UCI's report paints a grave picture of the challenges, but also offers key recommendations including increasing civic engagement, community organizing, political reform, and research.
Many groups and individuals work on these issues every day. A new project, "Hack the Health," is leading a small "civic engagement" experiment to deeper explore the issue in partnership with our local community, to include local perspective and experience in the app design from the start.
Sign-up for Hack for Health and help build a mobile app that can help empower North OC to affordably gain access to healthy food and activities.
Story by Ryan Smolar. Graphs and Ideas from UCI's "Orange County on the Cusp of Change" (2014)
At Hack for Health: Pitchfest on Saturday, June 17th, Orange County families, co-workers and schoolmates will compete to develop ideas for a healthy mobile app at the Santa Ana Public Library TeenSpace. Here's a rundown on the top 5 reasons you should attend:
1. Learn new skills & thinking
The Hack for Health is an empowering chance to explore your creative side. Everything you need to imagine an incredible app will be provided at the hack. We're setting up a laboratory for you and your team (whether that's your family, friends, co-workers, schoolmates or group) with technology, thinking tools, expert helpers and comfortable places to work and chat. Whether you're brand new or a seasoned developer, this experience should be enriching.
2. Help the Community
The goal of Hack for Health is to create an app that connects OC residents with healthy food and activities where they're at. The effort is part of a much broader, multi-million dollar Center for Disease Control grant called OC PICH to improve health outcomes in North OC (specifically Garden Grove, Anaheim and Santa Ana). This app will help real people and the hack is a chance for us all to contribute our skills and insights to solving problems in our community.
3. Win Prizes, Recognition (and Burritos!)
Prizes and recognition will be lauded on the best app ideas and the winning developed app. Imagine receiving $500 for just 2 hours of brainstorming, designing and pitching of an app idea? Skilled developers can join our development teams and win $1,000 for helping the community build the app of their dreams. Plus, all hack events will be catered by the OC Burrito Project gratis.
4. Bond with Family, Friends, Classmates & Co-workers
Prizes and recognition will be lauded on the best app ideas and a final, developed product. Imagine winning $500 for just 2 hours of brainstorming, designing and pitching of an app idea? Skilled developers can join our development teams and win $1,000 for helping the community build the app of their dreams. Plus, all hack events will be catered for you by the OC Burrito Project.
5. Its' Free and Fun
They say there's no such thing as a free lunch in this world, but the Hack for Health might prove otherwise. Just by signing up to participate, you will get a free lunch, free parking, and a fun environment to expand your skills and explore new ideas with friends, families or colleagues.
Add a chance to win $500 and recognition if your idea gets selected, and there are 5 top reasons to Hack for Health.
Learn More on the Hack for Health Project Page.
Please help share our Hack for Health: Pitchfest Facebook Event Page.
Story by Ryan Smolar. Photos by Brian Feinzimer and Pexels.
Pitchfest & Hack-a-thon: a chance to storyboard, design, pitch, build and win prizes and recognition
On Saturday, June 17, the community is invited to the Santa Ana Public Library TeenSpace to build a new app that helps neighbors find healthy food and activities right here in Orange County.
The Alliance for a Healthy Orange County and the downtown Santa Ana business district have partnered to create a healthy app targeting specifically Anaheim, Garden Grove and Santa Ana where residents’ health is most at risk.
“Anyone can sign up for this part of the hack: come by yourself or bring a team of friends or colleagues to compete for glory,” said Ryan Smolar, Hacker-in-Chief of the Hack for Health project.
“Join us for about 2 hours on Saturday, June 17th, between 10 AM - 5 PM at the Santa Ana Public Library TeenSpace to design, storyboard, and video record a short pitch presentation for a healthy local app. Free to participate and burritos will be served by the OC Burrito Project. The winning healthy app pitch advances towards winning a $500 cash prize if their app makes it to the final stage of development.”
After the Pitchfest, the pitch teams with the best ideas will be invited back to participate a “Hack-a-thon” on Saturday, June 24th at Batch DTSA Co-Working Space, where our assembled development teams will help the pitch teams build the app.
Finally, the app will launch at a celebration on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 28th.
Get More Info, Sign-up to Attend & Download our Basic Participation Guide
We've all heard about the wildflower 'superblooms' cropping up in rural parts of Southern California this Spring. They're like, super famous.
The Southern California Association of Governments Innovation department wants to help you explore SoCal's famed wildflower superblooms in a really smart way -- minimizing environmental impact from your trip and educating you about where these flowers came from anyway.
While many have heard about and been lured out to celebrity superblooms happening in nature parks and obscure parts of rural Southern California, SCAG Innovation performed an awesome hack to predict and map where you can check out likely flower blooms in a biome near you.
How did they do it?
According to SCAG, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a report giving parameters of elevation/terrain and even-interval precipitation conditions that would likely result in wildflower superblooms across the region. SCAG mapped the conditions necessary -- "precipitation, habitat areas, publicly accessible open space, and recent windstorms together" -- to determine a map of likely, wildflower blooms by month.
SCAG didn't just rely on the data they were given, they sent out field inspectors to determine where predictions were most accurate, and adjusted for that real-world fact check. Map users (like you!) can also help by documenting the wildflowers you encounter and uploading your photos to the Where the Wildflowers Are website. (Read more about the data and hack)
Why this year's Superbloom may not be so Super
Another reason SCAG embarked on this project was to help educate the public about this year's superbloom (which is quite naughty!). This bloom is not the result of miracle rain-fall and definitely not a sign that Southern California's water conservation efforts are a thing of the past. Neigh! Instead, SCAG argues that this superbloom is the demonstrable effects of climate change on Southern California, specifically, because of "an atmospheric river, a long, narrow band of water vapor in the sky, usually 250-350 miles wide."
These rivers "glide from sea level to the mountains lifts and condenses the moisture, turning it into rain or snow," explains SCAG, "As climate change warms the atmosphere in the coming decades, atmospheric rivers are likely to intensify in precipitation – but still remain difficult to predict."
Woah, What Next?
Anaheim, Garden Grove and Santa Ana are making a healthy app this June
We often hear, “there’s an app for that!” but what about when there isn’t?
Pitch sites can be public or private but must be registered here in order to receive up-to-date instructions and have their app considered for development.
“A school or office may want to sign-up privately and host a pitch-a-thon for their students or
employees,” said Smolar, “while a library or community center could host a public event that
we’ll promote to the public at-large.”
After the pitch-a-thon, the teams with the best ideas will be invited back to participate a
“Hack-a-thon” on Saturday, June 24th, where our assembled development team will help the
pitch teams create the app using available APIs, data and platforms.
Finally, the app will launch at a celebration on the evening of Wednesday, June 28th.
Sign-up as a Pitch-a-thon Host, Attendee or Developer
Article by Ryan Smolar
I have been in Santa Ana for nearly three years. Over that time, I've dropped a lot of hints to educators, business leaders, government and non-profits that I believe creative and tech industry catalyzation and connectivity is the key to securing quality of life for Santa Ana's residents and sustainability for our community and business sectors.
I gained these appreciations for technology and creativity from my own life experience -- I've made my income over the course of the last 10 years with just a laptop and self-taught online technologies. I'm not saying this to humble-brag, I'm saying this because I think everyone has the capability of learning these widely-available technologies, accumulating a little business savvy (or at least how to create an invoice and file taxes) and finding their value and natural skillsets they bring to the world.
As technology has progressed, it's getting easier to create value by responding to Fiverr ads, setting up your shop on Shopify, or picking up work off LinkedIn. The technology of production are ubiqutous and cheap through services like Canva, Weebly and Animoto and the ever-new march of hardware like augmented reality, 3D printing and VR are creating new markets and platforms for products and content that need to be created by somebody (cue future entrepreneur or knowledge-worker).
I have read widely on the topic of entrepreneurship and startup communities. The most informative books on the topic are Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class and Gavin Newsom's Citizenville. These books detail an emergent relationship between our communites, governement and individuality that is liberated by rampant creativity, open participation and technology.
Startup Santa Ana is my attempt to catalyze more creative/techneprenuership and social enterprise using a project-based model that gets us collaborating and sharing skillsets on projects that can help benefit our community.
Some of these projects have already been initiated and are in a maintenance mode, like our Pedal Theatre. This project was the brainchild of Manny Escamilla, a city employee and community creative who brought the idea to one of our meetings. We connected Manny with AKNS Parker, a downtown creative firm who funded the engineering and created cool branding for the Pedal Theatre, which is essentially a bicycle with a movie projector that can be used to ride around and show projections of content on walls.
Other projects are just getting started like our Nextdoor Campaign, a project dedicated towards getting more neighbors on Nextdoor.com, a social network for residents of the city to share information with their neighbors.
Right now, there is a huge disparity where one neighborhood has over 500 residents signed-up and others have as few as 20. We're thinking of creative ways to connect more residents through this tool which will give us a broader capability to communicate and collaborate with more of our city.
You can join this project or pitch us another project you'd like to lead or leave behind for someone to pick-up later.
The main point is that Startup Santa Ana helps to promote collaboration, technology and creativity through catalyzing communitiy projects. I hope that you'll join us and help make a huge impact on the city, our businesses, quality of life and youth and workforce development opportunities.