Endicott College students create app to record and store interactions with police

Four students competed in a hackathon to create a demo of the app and won Best Hack for Social Good. 

Endicott College students work on their app, ALive, which is designed to record and store interactions with police. David Le/Endicott College

Going into a 24-hour “hackathon” software design event in November, neither Greg Hosking nor Luke Jodice had any experience with React Native, the coding language their group was using. But, after many hours of work and very few hours of sleep, their group emerged from the competition with an award-winning app. 

Hosking and Jodice, along with Matthew Cruz and Jamyang “Z” Tamang, all students at Endicott College in Beverly, coded a prototype of an app meant to record and safely store footage of police interactions or any interaction where someone feels unsafe. 

“The really cool experience for me was we used a programming language called React Native and personally I had never used it. I had other programming experience with similar languages, so I was basically going in not knowing anything at all,” said Jodice, a junior studying computer science at Endicott.


Their app differs from a standard phone camera in that the files are not stored locally on your phone — if anything happens to the device recording, the file will still be accessible from a user’s account. 

“What’s nice about the app that that we are working on is that if for some reason that video gets removed off your phone or whatever happens to your phone, it will actually be in a safe location rather than just being locally on your phone,” Jodice said. 

The group developed the prototype of the app as a part of WHACK, a virtual hackathon hosted by Wellesley College in partnership with Major League Hacking in November, 2021. 

Though a hackathon may bring to mind images of coders sitting in dark rooms with green code running across their screens, Hank Feild, an associate professor of computer science at Endicott, said hackathons are actually a very social and productive experience. 

“When you talk about a system getting hacked, we use that same word, but hackathons are farthest thing from that. It’s not about compromising the system,” Feild said. “It’s really just positive experience to build something, prototype something kind of quickly.”


During the hackathon, the team worked mostly on the front end of the app, or what users would see, Jodice said. Matthew Cruz, one of the team members, came up with the original concept and then the group ran with it.

“We were able to make an application that you can show your camera and flip it, so the front facing camera as well as your back facing camera, and kind of set up the basic elements for the application, the different pages that are involved in it,” Jodice said. “Not really a ton of the backend stuff, more like what you’d actually see when you open the app.”

At the end of the competition, the group’s app won Best Hack for Social Good. 

“What we threw together during the hackathon was a prototype, it just does what it does and we’re hoping to build on the network, kind of just scrap it and start from something cleaner [and] fresher and then go from there,” said Hosking, a sophomore studying computer science and applied math. “We definitely want to overhaul the interface and get the proper back end set up for the user to be able to access the videos.”


The group hopes to eventually launch the app on Google Play and the Apple App Store, but Hosking said they will need to put in a lot of hours of work before that’s possible. They are hoping to finish development this spring, before Tamang and Cruz graduate.

“When it comes to programming, like half the time you’re just staring at an error wondering what the heck is going on, and spending four hours debugging it, so there’s going to be a lot of hours for that,” Hosking said. “We’re hoping that that’s going to fit in the time during our schedules this semester to just work on it a couple times a week and finish it up by the end of semester, maybe release it. That would be great.”

Jodice said he thinks the bulk of the work the group will take on this spring will be developing a system to make the profiles and store any recordings. 

Feild, the faculty sponsor of the college’s Computer Science Club, shared the opportunity to enter WHACK to the group, but let them take the reins from there. 

“The team consists of two two seniors, a junior, and a sophomore,” Feild said. “That was just a really cool thing to see that this was not like a cohort that was just one class of folks who take classes together. … The fact that we were able to put them together and get them to work pretty seamlessly from the sounds of it, I think was really cool.” 


Though the app could be used to record anything, Jodice said it is intended to provide a level of accountability. 

“I personally think that it has a lot of importance, especially if you look at the news in the past couple years,” Jodice said. “I know a lot of law enforcement have the cameras usually, it’d be basically having the other side of the camera.”


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