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Announcing 'AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge'

by jmaloni


Thu, Sep 11th 2014 07:00 pm

University at Buffalo, State University of New York at Fredonia, Z80 Labs, InfoTech Niagara, Launch NY, United Way and Hack Upstate partner with AT&T to launch contest challenging developers to create smartphone apps that will serve the community

Grisanti, Ryan join local leaders to judge submissions

The challenge: Solve local.

Technology giant AT&T, along with University at Buffalo, State University of New York at Fredonia, Z80 Labs, InfoTech Niagara, Launch NY, United Way of Buffalo and Erie County and Hack Upstate have announced the "AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge," a two-month "virtual hackathon" in which developers are encouraged to "solve local" by building smartphone apps that serve Western New Yorkers. Winners will receive cash prizes totaling $18,000.

The challenge, facilitated by Hack Upstate, was announced today at d!g Buffalo (pronounced 'dig'), the newly opened co-work space on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. It will run until Nov. 10. Coders, designers and technologists can register for the challenge and get more information at attwny.hackupstate.com.

The "AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge" encourages innovative thinkers, designers, artists, developers and entrepreneurs to create intuitive and novel mobile apps that address and provide solutions for social and civic issues in the Western New York region.

"AT&T's commitment to technology innovation in upstate New York grows out of our company's multibillion-dollar nationwide investment in the mobile communications network of the future," said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. "By encouraging students and career technologists in Western New York to explore smartphone software development, we are spotlighting the enormous demand for developers and engineers needed to create the software that will drive our mobile economy."

The challenge will award a grand prize of $10,000, followed by a second-place prize of $5,000 and $3,000 for third place. Teams submitting applications must include at least one member who is either a current resident of the eight counties that make up the Western New York region (Alleghany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming) or attends one of the region's institutions of higher education.

Submitted apps will be judged on their potential to impact Western New York, the quality of execution and creativity or novelty. A panel of judges made up of local tech experts, community leaders and elected officials, includes State Sen. Mark Grisanti and Assemblyman Sean Ryan.

"I applaud AT&T and the many community partners that have come together to bring this creative app challenge to this region, and for providing a platform to showcase the remarkable technology and entrepreneurship talent that is so prevalent in Western New York," Grisanti said. "The civic-themed apps developed as part of this challenge will demonstrate how mobile technology can be used to improve the lives of the residents of this community, and I look forward to the end results."

"I thank AT&T for bringing this innovative challenge to Western New York, and for working with the local technology community, organizations and academia to create this unique opportunity," Ryan said. "Bringing the 'Civic App Challenge' to Western New York shows that AT&T knows we are a region that is on the move, with many talented technology innovators looking to bring their ideas to the national stage. This challenge will bring out the best minds Western New York has to offer, and create new technology-based solutions that will help to improve the lives of people living in Western New York, and our entire country."

"University at Buffalo is proud to partner with AT&T and all of the other local organizations in hosting this app challenge," said Tom Ulbrich, assistant dean and executive director, University at Buffalo's School of Management and Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. "Thanks to AT&T's leadership, we have an exciting opportunity for our students and community members to use civic data and technology to create apps benefitting the Western New York region."

"Entrepreneurship and community engagement are key goals of Fredonia," Dr. Kevin Kearns, college vice president, engagement and economic development. "AT&T's 'Civic App Challenge' is a terrific way for us to cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit in Western New York and engage the community to create greater opportunity."

"Access to information is often a barrier for people when it comes to finding the services they need," said Michael Weiner, United Way president and CEO. "We are delighted to be a partner in the 'AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge' because it has the potential to deliver important information, in innovative ways, to the people who need it most. The challenge will also encourage people with valuable technical skills to join in the search for local solutions to our most pressing social issues, ultimately resulting in a more vibrant community."

The challenge will also feature a one-day symposium, "Opportunities in Open Data," on Sept. 27. It runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at d!g Buffalo and explores community issues in the region that stand to gain from software innovation using civic and government open data. Free to the public, the symposium also provides coders, designers and software engineers with orientation to community issues, access to area nonprofit leaders, and opportunities to brainstorm how civic apps can be monetized to create local economic development and community service. All interested individuals are asked to RSVP to http://buffalo-open-data.eventbrite.com by Sept. 24.

Interested persons can follow the challenge on Twitter using the hashtag #ATTWNY.

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