The weekend of February 22-24, 2019, MD5, in partnership with the New York State Department of Military & Naval Affairs, the New York National Guard, Joint Taskforce Empire Shield, the Colorado National Guard, the Texas National Guard, the Air National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, New York City Emergency Management, New York University Center for Urban Science & Progress, and Columbia Entrepreneurship Innovation & Design, hosted almost 200 innovators, mentors and judges for a three-day hackathon event, “Escape from New York: A Massive Evacuation Hackathon” at Galvanize in New York.

The event welcomed local students, entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and hackers from the academic, military, and commercial start-up communities worked to build and demonstrate innovative methods to support massive population evacuation due to natural or manmade disasters.

More than 20 teams presented solution concepts which were evaluated on the potential impact on one of three challenges of massive evacuations:

  • Communicate: Targeted communications providing evacuees relevant and compelling information; communications with at-risk populations and those who refuse to evacuate.

  • Track: Real-time, end-to-end tracking of evacuees and their statuses; locating unaccounted for evacuees; connecting families with impacted relatives.

  • Transport: Managing movement of people and supplies under dynamic conditions with damaged infrastructure; leveraging analytics and data sources such as geography information system, drones, social media, etc.

Validation also considered the level of demonstration, and the viability of bringing the solution to market.

The three winning teams and solution concepts were:


This mobile app is designed to maintain communication functionality and access to appropriate route / street mapping to allow real-time emergency GPS tracking of each phone utilizing the EVAC app.

Learn more about EVAC

Get the Buses!

This concept advances the necessity to safely and effectively transport those requiring evaluation by facilitating a combination of a commercially-licensed driver repository and available means of transport.

Learn more about Get the Buses!

Owl Incident Management

This software incident management system accumulates data from many sources during a disaster - weather APIs, first responders on the ground, and civilians - into a visualization platform to paint a clear operating picture of an incident.

Learn more about Owl Incident Management

Each of the three winning teams will receive up to $15K project funding and mentoring from NSIN to advance their concepts.