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WNY Civic Hackathon announces winners

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Tue, Oct 27th 2015 03:45 pm

Panel of judges selected from civic apps that address local issues surrounding air quality, public policy data, real-time snowplowing tracking, election turnout, transportation and linking farms and food pantries

WNY Civic Hackathon, powered by AT&T, hosted its demo and judging event Friday evening at the University at Buffalo North Campus. The six finalists presented and demoed their civic apps to a panel of tech judges for the opportunity to win one of the cash prizes totaling $3,500.

The winners included:

Grand prize ($2,000): Community Air Quality, created by John O'Brien (Buffalo). The civic app analyses air quality from a broad range of qualitative and quantitative responses to illustrate the state of the air in a specific neighborhood. It allows a user to register a phone number in the general database and answer a small set of questions on the relationship between individual lung health and environmental factors (asthma, smoking, allergies). Individuals receive regularly scheduled surveys to gather information on their neighborhood set-up and related health experiences (frequency of asthma attacks). Along with the surveys, the application is equipped with additional tools that can be accessed via special keywords. These tools can be used to report sources of pollution as well as associated concerns.

Second place ($1,000): Thought4Food, created by Mary and Gregory Everhart (Kenmore). This civic app helps make it easier to donate food that cannot be sold or used. It helps those who donate, especially farmers, realize the potential tax credits available by calculating their potential credits based on the USDA commodity market value. This helps to demonstrate the value of donations by businesses or farmers and makes donation a more viable option.

Third place ($500): Buffalo Snow, created by Jesse Thomson (Buffalo), is a civic app that provides real-time locations for municipal snowplows and weather data for what roads are clear throughout Western New York to provide drivers knowledge of road conditions and make winter travel safer.

Winners were chosen by a panel of judges made up of local tech and app experts who based their decisions upon the apps' potential impact on Western New York, execution and creativity or novelty. The judges included:

  • Dan Magnuszewski, cofounder, ACV Auctions and finalist in the 2015 43 North competition
  • Richard Porter systems architect, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County
  • Bill Reese, chief information officer, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County
  • Dr. Geoffrey Challen, assistant professor, University at Buffalo and director of the PhoneLab
  • Karl Newell, co-founder, 716 Labs and co-developer of the grand-prizewinning civic app of the 2014 AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge

The hackathon was designed to challenge local developers, makers, innovative thinkers, entrepreneurs, technologists and community activists to compete to create intuitive and novel apps or hardware that address and provide technological solutions for social and civic issues in the Western New York region pertaining to the following topics: housing/property blight, transportation and advocacy/public policy.

Each team presented and demoed their apps for the judges and answered questions regarding their civic apps. Mentors from the regional tech and advocacy community also participated in the hackathon by providing advice and guidance to the teams.

The WNY Civic Hackathon was hosted by: AT&T, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, University at Buffalo's Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and office of science, technology transfer and economic outreach (STOR) , dig Buffalo, WNY Innovation Hot Spot, InfoTech WNY and Buffalo Open Data. The event was designed to build off the success of the AT&T WNY Civic App Challenge in 2014, a two-month "virtual hackathon" in which developers were encouraged to "solve local" by building smartphone apps that serve the community.

The WNY Civic Hackathon followed the same principals of National Day of Hacking, an annual event that brings together urbanists, civic hackers, government staff, developers, designers, community organizers and anyone with the passion to make their region better through technology. Similar to National Day of Hacking, this event provided opportunities to get people involved in civic hacking, a new form of civic engagement. Many of the activities are based on proven models provided by Code for America, Random Hacks of Kindness and Innovation Endeavors.

For more information regarding the WNY Civic Hackathon, visit wnycivichack.com.

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