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Mayor Byron W. Brown addresses the media. (Submitted photo)
Mayor Byron W. Brown addresses the media. (Submitted photo)

Buffalo Mayor Brown launches his 3rd annual Civic Innovation Challenge Powered by AT&T


Wed, Mar 11th 2020 12:25 pm

Competition to create solutions to enhance city operations

Creator of top app will win a $10,000 cash prize from AT&T, an individualized business assistance package from the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center, pitch meeting with angel investors; winning solution will be beta tested by City of Buffalo

Mayor Byron W. Brown on Tuesday launched his third annual Mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge – Powered by AT&T. The 2020 challenge will award a winner-take-all cash prize of $10,000 for a software solution for the city’s Department of Public Works, Parks & Streets or the Department of Permit & Inspection Services.

“As my administration continues its efforts to make Buffalo a ‘Smart City,’ where we utilize tech solutions to enhance internal operations and delivery of services to our residents, I’m calling on local coders, app developers and programmers to put their tech skills to work on behalf of the city,” Brown said. “The 2020 Civic Innovation Challenge – Powered by AT&T offers our growing tech community a tremendous opportunity to enhance city operations, help make Buffalo an even better place to live, work, study and play, and win $10,000, plus business development support.”

Once again, the city is partnering on the challenge with AT&T, which is contributing the $10,000 winner-take-all cash prize.

“AT&T is proud to collaborate with Mayor Brown to host this civic innovation challenge again this year, because it so closely aligns with our commitment to supporting local innovation, while showcasing how municipalities can utilize mobile technology and ‘Smart Cities’ solutions to enhance quality of life for its residents and reduce costs,” said Amy Kramer, New York president, AT&T. “I applaud the mayor for his continued commitment to embracing how mobile technology and innovation can help manage the City of Buffalo, and for turning to the region’s robust and talented technology community for civic-minded tech solutions. I am excited to see the impressive and innovative ideas that will be submitted to the challenge.”

Royce Woods, executive director of the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center, and a competition judge, said, “The Beverly Gray Center is excited about participating in this competition, because of the entrepreneurial opportunity it presents. It’s an amazing time to be a tech-based entrepreneur in the City of Buffalo, because of the resources available to early-stage tech businesses. The center will work with the winner to connect them with services and resources.”

Kirk McLean, director of Open Data in Buffalo and also on the judging panel, said, “It’s not something that people often think of, but government technology is big business – a $400 billion market – and some estimates are projecting it to grow to $1 trillion by 2025. As governments around the world turn more and more to technology to improve service delivery and the quality of life of their residents, new companies will emerge in this marketplace. We are excited by the possibility that the Civic Innovation Challenge will lead to one of these companies starting and growing in our great city.”

Rounding out the panel of judges are: Jack Greco, executive director, Techstars; Venus Quates, CEO, LaunchTECH; and Eric Reich, co-founder/president, Campus Labs.

The 2020 Challenge will run from March 10 through May 18, and will include a “Reverse Pitch” event on March 22 at the Northland Workforce Training Center. That event will feature city leaders who will pitch ideas for specific technical solutions they’d like to incorporate into DPW and DPIS operations. Those ideas include apps for tracking garbage and recycling totes, sidewalk inspections, pavement rating, sign inventory, special events management, park shelter/green space reservations, and “Ask an Inspector,” an app that would provide answers for building inspection FAQs.

Other suggested solutions are a building maintenance app and a behavioral health app.

“Since we launched our Buffalo Open Data portal in 2016, we’ve counted over 1 million page views, and are continually adding updated and expanded data sets. And as I announced in my February State of the City address, we are partnering with SAS Institute to develop an innovation hub to enable more data-driven solutions and a talent development hub to create a new generation of skilled talent to advance our ‘Smart City’ efforts,” Brown said. “This year’s Civic Innovation Challenge is another way my administration is fostering local tech talent and leveraging their skills to improve our city.”

The deadline for submissions is May 18. Judging will take place May 19-25. The grand finale ceremony is scheduled for June 4.

The Challenge is open to anyone living, working or going to school in Buffalo, as well as throughout the eight counties of Western New York. Individuals and teams interested in the competition can find detailed contest rules and an online application at: www.Buffaloinnovates.com. Open Data Buffalo can be accessed at: data.buffalony.gov.

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