Winners of Phase I: From Research to App Competition (8th Annual 2019/2020)

Winners of the Phase I of "From Research to App" Competition 2019-2020 was announced on November 25, 2019 at the pitch event. 

Winning ideas moving forward to Phase II are:

Break the Chain - Stopping Sex Trafficking with Big Data

Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business every year. It is estimated that $150 billion in profits per year are made from modern day slavery. While 64% of the 24.9 million trafficked persons a year are forced into labor, only 19% of the 24.9 million are forced into sex work or sexually exploited. However, sex trafficking accounts for about two-thirds of the profits ($99 billion a year).

Online ads allow traffickers to advertise over a larger geographical area and reach a larger audience. Online classified ad web sites separate the advertisement of sexual services from the delivery of those services making it more difficult to catch the trafficker red-handed. The internet affords them a certain amount of anonymity. Some say the internet provides traffickers, their victims, and their customers with a safer environment.

The number of ads, their content, where they are posted, when they are posted and all of the things that link ads to the same source can reveal a lot about the trafficking organizations. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of online ads makes it difficult for law enforcement to exploit this information.

Break the Chain app will be centered on developing an app that allows for searches by name or nickname and phone number based on advertising found in online environments such as, Craig’s list and Facebook groups. A sample vectorized and optimized data set is available for the search processes. The vectorization process will help the searches to be conducted in an efficient and timely manner. After a search is completed and a match found, law enforcement officials will be provided a sex trafficking probability score determined by our predictive models. They will also be able to see any other advertisements linked to the search record as determined by our network analysis.


Droughts are a recurrent feature of Oklahoma’s climate and agriculture is one of the largest sectors in the state that are affected by drought events. Drought monitoring helps growers and policy makers to make necessary arrangements required to reduce the impact of drought as well as it provides them with sufficient time to duly implement the contingency plans. Drought severity is measured using indices backed with weather data.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, most of the drought indices do not provide the much required ease-of-use that lowers the outreach efforts during extreme drought periods thus increasing the drought-susceptibility of communities. For Oklahoman farmers, this very issue can be solved by developing a mobile app that can convey the intensity of drought to the users using a simple yet rigorous drought index. Access to a drought index, which is based on data from state-of-the-art environmental monitoring network, The Oklahoma Mesonet, can be a game changer for elevating drought preparedness.

The proposed app will retrieve the soil moisture and weather information from the Mesonet database to process it using the new algorithm, and will explain the drought condition to the users in simple categories. The farmers will also be able to see the weekly and monthly timelines of drought magnitude from current and past years for comparing the severity of drought with previous growing seasons. This will help growers to make informed decisions and improve their drought risk assessment thus saving farm revenue by optimizing the inputs accordingly.

Note: Once the Phase II participants select one of the above app ideas for development, a much detailed overview and the app story board presentation will be sent to registered teams.