The 5G For Change

If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that life needs some hacking. So for the first time in the history of The Webby Awards, we invite you to the 5G for Change Hackathon. There’s no shortage of things that need to be fixed. 5G is an invaluable tool in that pursuit—speed, access, and real-world change for the better.

Build something for change. Win a Webby and $50,000.

Entries are now closed.

Presented By:Verizon

Team Mayday Aims to Connect Emergency Responders to People with Disabilities

As a finalist, their proposed app would allow emergency responders to plan rescues according to users’ needs. Learn more about the team and their pitch during The Webby Awards’ 5G for Change Hackathon, presented by Verizon.
Mariella Paulino and Adriana Mallozzi at the 5G for Change Hackathon. Credit: Eryc Perez de Tagle.

Adrianna Mallozzi shifted her power wheelchair to position herself before a judging panel. Her teammate Mariella Paulino propped up her cellphone, while her stenographer sat nearby, waiting for the two to begin. 

“Close your eyes,” Mallozzi instructed the audience, and launched into the tragic story of a Ukrainian woman, who was paralyzed, unable to contact rescue professionals while trapped under a pile of debris when airstrikes destroyed her home. “People with disabilities often get left behind,” she concluded. 

Mallozzi and Paulino were pitching their app, MayDay, as one of five finalist teams selected to move forward in The Webby Awards’ first 5G for Change Hackathon!

Mariella Paulino and Adrianna Mallozzi pitching their app "Mayday" to judges at Verizon's headquarters in New York City. Credit: Eryc Perez de Tagle.

Presented by Verizon, the hackathon challenged teams to tackle an important issue, and solve it by using 5G and the Internet. Out of 150 submissions, only five teams were selected to pitch before a judging panel of industry leaders—from Verizon, MIT Solve, the Black Ambition Opportunity Fund and Stagewell Global—at Verizon’s headquarters in New York City!

The winning team will be announced at the 26th Annual Webby Awards on May 16th, and will be awarded $50,000. Learn more about this team and their project.

The 5G for Change Hackathon brought together five finalists at Verizon's headquarters in New York City. Credit: Eryc Perez de Tagle

Team Mayday

Topic: SOS App for Persons with Disabilities

While “15% of people in the world identify as having a disability,” they are typically the last to be thought of and are often forgotten during emergency situations, according to Team Mayday. “People also don’t know the best practices for helping people with disabilities, especially those who are unable to communicate verbally,” said Mallozzi.

Recognizing this fact, coupled with lived experiences, their solution was to create an app “that acts as an SOS system for people with disabilities” to notify emergency responders or organizers giving humanitarian aid of their location. 

Team Mayday has a vision of giving users agency, and letting them fully communicate their needs through profiles listing “all relevant information related to their disability and health.” Think: requiring a sign language communicator or a wheelchair, or making note of a heart disease, allowing rescue professionals to plan accordingly. 

The Mayday app plans to use 5G to execute highly precise positioning of users, which is a key part of their solution. 

“We are designing for our future selves,” Paulino said. They are also designing for a future that they want to see.  

Mariella Paulino and Adriana Mallozzi being interviewed. Credit: Eryc Perez de Tagle.

About the Team

The team behind the Mayday app is made up of five diverse individuals dispersed across the Boston and New York areas. Members include:

Adriana Mallozzi, a quad CP and power wheelchair user, the founder of Puffin and participant in the Verizon Forward for Good accelerator Disability Innovation cohort. 

Mariella Paulino, a cochlear implant user and a marketing professional focused on all things at the intersection of social impact and technology. 

Adam, an avid skier who is deaf and uses a cochlear implant. With a background in sports and accessibility marketing, he is currently working in web accessibility.

Elijah Tucker, a Software Engineer with a passion for the transformative impact incorporating artificial intelligence in assistive technology (AT) can have on people with disabilities. Elijah’s studies at Fitchburg State University focused specifically on developing data analysis skills necessary for AI to be used with AT. This was important to Elijah, as much like Adriana, Elijah was born with CP.

Maitreyi Kale, a student at Tufts University who is studying Cognitive Science and Child Development, and will be pursuing her Master’s in Human Factors Engineering. She is passionate about education and assistive technology.

Learn more about the 5G for Change Hackathon, and see the other finalists: Team Frame Perfect, Team Whose Metaverse?, Team MRM and Team DataScape. The winning team will be announced on stage during the 26th Annual Webby Awards on Monday, May 16. 

Follow #Webbys to see who will this first-ever award at the 26th Annual Webby Awards, hosted by Roy Wood Jr. Catch the moment on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok or at on Monday, May 16 at 9pm EDT.