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Higgins: Williamsville East student Vidya Shah selected winner of Congressional App Challenge


Mon, Feb 3rd 2020 03:15 pm

‘Hover oveR’ app designed to provide emergency responders rapid access to information following wildfires or disasters

During a visit to Williamsville East High School, Congressman Brian Higgins announced Vidya Shah as the winner of the 2019 Congressional App Challenge, an annual competition asking middle and high school students from House congressional districts across the U.S. to create and submit original apps.

“The applications created by participating students reflect not only great innovation, but also a desire to utilize their skills to help fix challenging local and national issues,” Higgins said.

“The Williamsville Central School District is honored that Vidya has been chosen as the winner of the Congressional App Challenge,” Superintendent Dr. Scott Martzloff said. “We are looking forward to her representing not only the district, but her school and community.”

“We are extremely proud of Vidya for winning the Congressional App Challenge with her innovative app, ‘Hover oveR,’ which can help save lives during a natural disaster,” Williamsville East Principal Brian Swatland said. “It’s an incredible accomplishment and we are excited she will now represent Williamsville East in Washington, D.C.”

Vidya’s app, “Hover oveR” is written in the Python programming language with the goal of enabling a fast and targeted emergency response by scanning disaster locations with drone imaging. Her submission can be viewed here: https://www.congressionalappchallenge.us/19-NY26.

A ninth-grader, Vidya said she was inspired by the catastrophic wildfires in the Amazon and California. She looked to find a solution that can be easily scaled up and leveraged by first responders to identify and reach those in need. In the future, Vidya said she hopes to improve this program by incorporating a live stream of the area the drone is scanning.

The winner from each congressional district is given a $250 Amazon Web Services gift card and invited to Washington, D.C., for the official demonstration of their app at the celebration #HouseOfCode. At this event on Tuesday, March 24, students will get to see their app displayed in the U.S. Capitol Building and connect with other coders from around the country.

This year, 2,177 applications from 304 congressional districts were programmed from scratch, submitted, and reviewed by a panel of select judges. Locally, seven applications were submitted from six different schools.

The yearly Congressional App Challenge begins in June with a submission deadline of Nov. 1. Higgins encourages local students to participate. To learn more about the submission process, visit https://www.congressionalappchallenge.us/.

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