App Challenge winners focused on women’s safety, Maui fires and encryption software

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U.S. Rep. Ed Case with Jeremiah So at the Entrepreneurs Sandbox in Kakaʻako. PC: Congressman Ed Case

Congressman Ed Case (HI-01) today announced the winners of his 2023 Congressional App Challenge for Hawai‘i’s First Congressional District at a reception at the Entrepreneurs Sandbox in Kaka‘ako.

The winning apps developed by high school students addressed women’s safety, focused on Maui fire recovery, and a developed encryption software.

“The Challenge is a great opportunity for our local students to focus their skills and creativity on developing, testing and analyzing new applications for real-world use,” said Case “Congratulating the winners at the Sandbox, which is described as ‘Hawaiʻi’s community hub to inspire creativity, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship’, will hopefully also open the students’ minds to possibilities beyond their imagination.”

“And results of this year’s Challenge prove once again that they have the skill set, imagination and resolve to compete against the best of our young people nationwide in science, technology, engineering and math, along with the potential to lead the next generations of computer science and technology.”

The winners for Hawaii’s First Congressional District:

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First Place went to Jaylen Rabago a 10th grader at the DreamHouse ‘Ewa Beach public charter school for her SpeakSafe app.

Rabago said her app brings awareness to women’s safety and helps them feel empowered and secure in their daily lives.

The main feature of this app is the voice recording library, designed to provide a sense of security by creating the illusion of an ongoing conversation. Rabago said this feature was designed to help deter potential attackers.

Additionally, a “panic” button enhances the app by instantly alerting loved ones of the user’s location when faced with dangerous situations.

“What inspired me to create this app was the experiences of myself and my loved ones. As a woman, sometimes it feels unsafe to navigate certain situations or environments. Through conversations with people in my community, I realized that many women share similar concerns and fears. I wanted to develop an app that could provide a sense of security and empowerment for women, encouraging them to feel more confident and in control of their personal safety,” said Rabago.

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“I have also found that there are often situations where someone feels uncomfortable or threatened, but not threatened enough where calling 911 or using a defense weapon (i.e.
pepper spray) would be necessary,” she said. “By leveraging technology, I aim to bridge the gap between feeling vulnerable and having a reliable tool to enhance personal safety.”

Second Place went to Jeremiah So, and 8th grader at Christian Academy for his Maui Fire app.

The app was designed to encourage and spread awareness to help the people of Maui through the tragic wildfires that occurred in August 2023. The app includes information on the island itself and links to fundraising websites and organizations—The Shelter Relief Fund, The People’s Fund of Maui, and the Maui Strong fund through Bank of Hawaiʻi.

So also developed several games that are featured on the app: Fight the Flames, Fix the Lines and Evacuation Stampede.

“News of the Maui fire inspired me to make this project. At my church, they were talking about helping Maui and every week they would mention giving to The Shelter Relief fund, which was created to bring relief to those in need of transitional housing. “I contributed to the shelter relief fund but I wanted to do even more to help those in need, so I created this project,” said So.

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Third Place went to 10th graders Jinghao Li and Kekoa Dung of Island Pacific Academy for the app PyQuCryptor.

PyQuCryptor is a modern, post-quantum encryption software written in Python 3.12 (compatible with 3.11) using the PyCryptoDome and HashLib cryptographic libraries.

Creators Li and Dung say: “It uses AES-256-CTR for encryption, PBKDF2-SHA3-256 for encryption key derivation, and SHA3-512 for integrity authentication and validation as well as AES-CTR’s built in authentication.”

The application is designed specifically for Windows 10 and 11 as Python 3.12 only supports those versions.

The free and open-source software whose inspiration came from an early build of an “encryption” software that the creators made in Python.

The creators say: “I have a lot of experience with cryptography as I have dealt with 7-Zip’s AES-256 encryption, BitLocker device encryption, and VeraCrypt volume encryption, I am also running my own website supporting HTTPS (with TLS v1.3/v1.2) and a valid digital certificate from Let’s Encrypt, and I run my own VPN servers based off of the ShadowSocks, OpenVPN, and WireGuard protocols.”

The Entrepreneurs Sandbox is Hawaiʻi’s front door to creativity, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. This 13,500 square foot collaboration facility was developed in 2019 to inspire all, by the Hawaʻi Technology Development Corporation, a State agency attached to the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

Together with Hub Coworking Hawaiʻi, the space is made available to bring community together through networking, educational, business training and coworking opportunities.

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