Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Can Citizens Write Apps for a City?

San Diego, May 31, 2015: 

Can citizens take advantage of open data to write software apps for the benefit city residents? The City of San Diego,  AT&T, and CyberTECH launched a Hackathon on May 30 - 31, 2015 to find out.

The data to drive citizen-delivered-apps was provided by San Diego's Open Development Services Department (Open DSD) as part of their Open Data initiative, and San Diego's Smart City efforts.

Gary Hayslip, Deputy Director of IT, and Chief Information Security Officer for the City of San Diego said, "This event has shown the value of combining innovation, open data, the cloud, and mobility. We want to let the citizens create the city's first mobile apps...for the betterment of the city. Citizens are creating apps that all of us can use."

The seventy challengers came from all over San Diego and Southern California, and formed nine teams to help the city. Often meeting each other for the first time at the event, the teams included a wide range of ages and nationalities including Fathers and sons, a father and daughter, and people speaking French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, Russian and English. Working together for 24 hours, they created secure and useable software, using data submitted to the city over the years for everything from building a house to installing solar panels or opening businesses. 

Sergio and Ana Fernandez, winners of the "best use of technology," created an easy-to-use mobile app to find out which factors impact neighborhoods. "When I was looking for an apartment there was lots of data," said Ana Fernandez. "But it was difficult to see what neighborhood crime, noise, and vandalism was like. We made it easy." 

Michael Pacholec (AT&T), Sergio Fernandez, Ana Fernandez, Gary Hayslip (City of San Diego) Darin Andersen (CyberTECH), Jim Myers (City of San Diego)
Michael Pacholec (AT&T), Sergio Fernandez, Ana Fernandez, Gary Hayslip (City of San Diego) Darin Andersen (CyberTECH), Jim Myers (City of San Diego)

The event was viewed by all as a major step forward in making open data useable. Bill Musson, an engineer with event sponsor Splunk, said, "Pulling such an event together on a shoestring that provided such value in matching government data with results is a great accomplishment."

Michael Pacholec, Director of Developer Evangelism for AT&T, said, "We accomplished our mission of having developers come together and build apps that are of real value to people."

Ed Arenberg, IOS developer and challenger, summed up challenger sentiment when he said, "They took excellent care of us. Great mentoring, great resources, and great food."

See for yourself if the event was successful by checking out the winning Team's app Onesto, for choosing contractors based on city data and real contractor results.

 #hackathon #openDSD #atthack2015 #opendata

About Eric Westreich:     
        Co-founder and industry lead of the PlugFest Consortium, over 300 volunteers from government, industry, and academia working on the same problem, at the same time, together to deliver good government system fast.
        Founder of Epic Footprints designed to help you build your clear, distinct, and lasting business footprint.

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