Problem solving at the IWF Hackathon

Chris Wilson, Head of Software Development

Chris Wilson (far left), Head of Software Development and Dan Sexton (sixth from right), Chief Technology Officer, with IWF Hackathon participants at the event in February 2023


Every challenge was successfully tackled when the IWF software team ran another of our hackathons in central London, the first since the pandemic. These are intense, all-day events that we run with trusted partners and specialists to creatively address some of our more complex technical challenges.  

We set a series of problems for the invited participants to work on, all based on real-world issues we have with image analysis and computer vision – the artificial intelligence that gathers information from images and videos.  

Certain issues can hamper our efforts to categorise and match child sexual abuse material and we constantly push to improve the tech platforms that our experienced analysts use to identify and assess content accurately and efficiently.  

Pleasingly, every challenge was matched with a successful outcome, and we gained a wide variety of new ideas and approaches in addition. Our software team has taken all the submissions from the hackathon and will gradually work through integrating them into our day-to-day work. 

Hackathons are a useful exercise for us due to the limited pool of technical expertise that exists in our field; the example we give participants is “there’s not much on Stack Overflow for dealing with child sexual abuse material!”   

The valuable events let us openly discuss some of the challenges, find new solutions and share ideas and knowledge on how to best go about our mission to stop child sexual abuse online.