Competition Combines Community and Technologists to Solve Real-World Issues

The Center for Neighborhood Technology today launched its 4th Annual Urban Sustainability Apps Competition with presenting sponsorMicrosoft. The CNT Apps Competition begins with a series of town hall meetings in several Chicago neighborhoods to reach non-developers and identify issues facing communities, and continues with technical training throughout the spring, provided by Microsoft. The competition culminates in a weekend event at Tech Nexus June 5-7, where teams create app prototypes with a winner to be selected by a panel of technology and business experts.

“The 2015 CNT competition bridges communities and technology, collecting ideas from neighborhood residents, community leaders, entrepreneurs, designers and programmers to solve local issues by creating mobile applications that address real problems,” CNT Apps Competition Program Director Steven C. Philpott, Sr. said.  “The competition will connect the potential of technology to the talented visionaries in our communities. Our goal is to bring the community closer to developers to create apps that can be deployed to quicken the pace of sustainable development in Chicago.”

The CNT Apps Competition focuses on:

  • Community engagement – Using technology to bring diverse groups of people together to solve pressing problems.
  • Sustainability – Working at the intersection of economics and environment, with a particular focus on challenges and opportunities in Chicago Neighborhoods.
  • Innovation – A solution development process that allows community residents to collaborate with technical experts to partner for app development.

“I could not be more thrilled for Microsoft to be partnered with the Center for Neighborhood Technology on the Apps Competition,” said Adam J. Hecktman, Microsoft’s Director of Technology and Civic Innovation. “Microsoft was founded on the optimistic belief in the empowering potential of technology, and we are committed to building long-term partnerships in Chicago’s neighborhoods to help civic leaders like CNT use technology to build environmental and economic sustainability at the neighborhood level.”

Microsoft is joined by Exelon, Intel, and others in supporting the competition.

Prior to the event, Microsoft will offer a series of free introductory app development workshops to empower community leaders to envision technology solutions for local problems and better compete. The Microsoft workshops consist of four, 90-minute sessions where Microsoft Civic Technology experts will provide instruction on MS Bizspark app building toolset (App Studio, Project Siena, and Azure) for non-developers over the course of four weeks at the Microsoft Technology Center in Chicago.

Participants will have access to CNT’s data – including the Housing + Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index, the Abogo Transportation Cost tool, and the Transit-Oriented Development Database – as well as over 60 sustainability data sets from the City of Chicago. People interested in participating can register for the CNT Apps Competition at


Press Contact:
Manny Gonzales, Communications Director
Center for Neighborhood Technology
773-278-4041 |


CNT is an award-winning innovations laboratory for urban sustainability now in its fourth decade.  The CNT Apps competition, begun in 2012, has helped produce several relevant and sustainable organizations based on the effectiveness of these apps. In October 2014 CNN Money cited CNT as a key reason for naming Chicago one of the Most Innovative Cities in America. Elevate Energy and IGO (acquired in 2013 by Enterprise CarShare) are examples of how the organization has used research initiatives, development strategies, and local outreach to create sustainable businesses.

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