CNT’s Urban Sustainability Hackathon: A Preview
CNT’s very first Urban Sustainability Hackathon is this weekend, October 5-7, and we’re very excited to see what the coders and developers are going to come up. The event follows the Reinventing Chicago conversation, where Scott Bernstein, Andrés Duany, and John Tolva will talk with Laura Washington, a veteran Chicago-area journalist, about how technology can address problems raised by urban planning to make it easier to build and live in smart cities.
The hackathon is a way to crowdsource the effort it takes to bring an exciting new idea to fruition: the developers will meet to discuss the topics and ideas raised and brainstorm what they want to do and, finally, split into teams based on interest. They’ll then have 33 hours with access to CNT and the City of Chicago’s proprietary models and datasets to work on their ideas.
When the time is up, their entries will be judged by three leading figures in the areas of web development and entrepreneurship. Not only will the entries be judged on the merits of how they address issues related to sustainability, but how sustainable they are themselves: any app or program that comes out of the hackathon should be able to sustain itself financially.
The judges for the hackathon are:
Jamie N. Jones from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Jamie is intrigued by the fact that the hackathon draws from multiple fields, involving coders, entrepreneurs, and those working for sustainability. One of Jamie’s focuses is on responsible impact and social impact, so she’s excited that CNT is putting together this program. “I think that technology offers young companies and entrepreneurs the ability to scale in ways that haven’t been available before. There are also new ways of leveraging technology and data for efficiency, whether it be management, construction, governing, or living.”
Guy Turner of Hyde Park Venture Partners. Guy is from the for-profit sector, so he’s going to be looking for a project that can sustain itself as well as address a big problem. As Guy sees it, the first area that developers should be looking to improve would be transportation, followed by energy efficiency, especially providing options for reducing energy use and waste in the suburbs. Just as long as the problem addressed is a major one: “If someone invents a way to, let’s just say, clean gum off the sidewalk, then that’s nice; it improves the world, but not in a very interesting way, so it’s not going to hold anyone’s attention for long. I’m looking for projects to address problems like energy, education, food, or even violence; something that has a major impact.”
Daniel X. O’Neil, Smart Chicago Collaborative. Daniel developed one of the first CTA tracker apps, eventually including the CTA as a contributor and collaborator on the official CTA bus tracker API. Daniel has also been responsible for CityPayments, a database of all vendors, contracts, and payments posted by the City of Chicago. He has worked with CNT for a while, and is happy to see CNT taking steps to make use of civic data to help make lives better and improve the economy at the same time by building new businesses. Daniel’s interest with the hackathon will be how effectively the products developed can be integrated into consumer’s experience of the world: “I’m going to be looking for things that can be embedded in our experience. Rather than separate tools or databases, technology should be integrated with our thoughts and internal processes to the point that when we make decisions about what we do, the data that technology makes available to us is fully considered. Also for tools that are easy to interact with and that function well with the user’s input. If it’s yet another login, people are going to be less disposed to it than if it’s intuitive.”
These three judges will bring their diverse backgrounds to celebrate our hackers’ success on Sunday, October 7. The winning team will receive Google Nexus tablets, I-GO Car Sharing memberships, and a promotional video for their project.
Join the conversation that will inform the hackathon efforts on October 4, Reinventing Chicago, brought to you by CNT and Red Frog Events! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date on information about the event. For sponsorship and ticket information, visit the event’s page or contact Nicole Gotthelf.