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Buffalo: Byron Brown launches Civic Innovation Challenge

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Fri, Mar 2nd 2018 06:10 pm
Competition to create solutions to benefit city residents using information from city's new 'Open Data Buffalo' portal; via a partnership with AT&T, creators of top 3 innovations will split $8,000
Mayor Byron W. Brown launched his inaugural Mayor's Civic Innovation Challenge Powered by AT&T, seeking creative solutions that address social and civic issues impacting City of Buffalo residents. Competitors will mine data from the city's new "Open Data Buffalo" portal to drive their innovative solutions.
"My Civic Innovation Challenge is a two-month competition for local computer scientists, coders, software developers, designers, hardware engineers and tech students to create innovative products or solutions that benefit the City of Buffalo and its residents," Brown said. "My administration, and our partners, aim to unite developers in the WNY region to build mobile apps or other solutions that address community needs while demonstrating how mobile technologies can lead to next generation job growth and development in the City of Buffalo."
The city's Open Data Buffalo portal, which went live Feb. 22, is a free, public source for data the city generates and collects. The Mayor's Civic Innovation Challenge will help introduce the region's tech community to Open Data Buffalo's available datasets, and utilize that information to come up with their civic solution.
The city is partnering on the challenge with AT&T, which is contributing $8,000 in prize money to be split among the top three finalists.
"AT&T is proud to collaborate with Mayor Brown and the City of Buffalo to provide this unique civic-minded innovation challenge to career technologists and students across Western New York," said Marissa Shorenstein, president, Northeast region, AT&T. "This competition is an innovative approach to showcase how technology and data can be used for social good and to assist municipalities to address issues impacting their residents, similar to what AT&T provides every day across the country through our Smart Cities solutions.
"As a judge, I am excited to see what the talented local tech community creates to help the City of Buffalo utilize its new robust open data platform to benefit its residents."
Ulla Bak, co-founder and president of Bak USA, who will also serve as one of the challenge judges, said she's looking forward to reviewing the submissions.
"The Buffalo Civic Innovation Challenge is propelling Buffalo into a new era," Bak said. "One where technology plays a significant role in shaping civic policy. One where technology is at the forefront of Buffalo's resurgence. And one where we use technology to equalize access to information and use that access to benefit every citizen. I'm proud to support Mayor Brown's initiative and excited to work alongside so many community leaders leveraging technology and innovation for social good."
"The city has launched Open Data Buffalo to not only increase transparency and efficiency, but also to foster innovation. We're thankful for AT&T's willingness to partner with us on the Civic Innovation Challenge and we're excited to see what our talented local tech community can build using our open data," said Kirk McLean, program manager, Open Data Buffalo.
In addition to Brown, Shorenstein and Bak, the five-member panel of judges will also include Christopher Fagiani, co-creator of FLOW, an open-source mobile/cloud based data collection platform; and Andrew Nicklin, of Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities initiative, who led former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's NYC OpenData and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Open NY programs.
The inaugural Civic Innovation Challenge will run from March 1 through April 22. The judges will review the apps and select three finalists. An awards ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 9, at a time and location to be announced. The grand prizewinner will receive $5,000, with the second- and third-place winners receiving $2,000 and $1,000, respectively.
Full information on the challenge and registration forms is available at www.buffaloinnovates.com.
Brown and his administration have been working toward the launch of the Buffalo Open Data portal since mid-2016, when it was selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities initiative, a national effort to assist cities in their use of data for more effective civic service and performance management.
Brown created an internal open data team representing all city departments, including Buffalo Police and Fire, to create an open data policy, identify potential datasets and task data liaisons with building a virtual library of data the city collects and generates.
"As we continue to grow Buffalo into a city of opportunity for all, free access to experts in data usage and performance will further my commitment to use fact-based and data-driven approaches that will improve our ongoing efforts to deliver better results to Buffalo residents, business owners and visitors," Brown said. "Creation of the portal will also give our city departments the ability to tell their everyday stories through interactive tables, charts, graphs and maps. I encourage our residents to log on to Open Data Buffalo website and explore information about the city at large and their own neighborhoods."
Open Data Buffalo can be accessed at: https://data.buffalony.gov/.

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