Philadelphia is a city of firsts.
Adding another item to this long list of notable achievements, students in the vibrant ecosystem of colleges and universities here in Philadelphia have developed what has become the largest college hackathon in the country. We are the first city to create a college hackathon that has a global reach.
The biannual PennApps hackathon – held at the University of Pennsylvania in mid-January – exceeded over 400 participants from around the country, and included some participants from overseas. It is by far one of the largest concentration of college age hackers anywhere – and it happens twice a year, right here in Philadelphia.
The audience at this event is a perfect fit for the ever expanding portfolio of data and APIs being made available by the City of Philadelphia. One of the goals of the City’s open data effort is to encourage outside users to help us build useful and valuable applications that help our citizens and make our city work better.
I had the pleasure of attending this exciting event, and presenting to participants some of the APIs and data sets available for software developers and others to use to make their ideas come to life. It was an exciting weekend, and several teams used the City’s open data as the foundation for their projects.
With the support of the event organizers, the City of Philadelphia presented the Startup PHL award for the best civic application that used open data. We were thrilled to present this award at the conclusion of the event to a pair of creative solutions.
This project combines both a hardware and software hack and uses the City’s bike network data to automatically report potholes and other issues in city bike lanes to a central map that can be used by cyclists all over the city.
This ingenious project combines a number of large city data sets in a way that will let urban planners identify the most desirable spots for new urban assets based on a number of important outcomes – potential reduction in crime, increase in property values, reduced drainage into the city’s stormwater system, etc.
Both of these projects will share in the StartUP PHL prize and have an opportunity to present their projects to Mayor Nutter and top administration officials.
Philadelphia is proud to be the home of the largest college hackathon in the world – it’s just one more thing that makes Philly special and sets us apart from other places. Our vibrant ecosystem of colleges and universities will be a valuable assest in our drive to spur innovation and build smart solutions with our open data.
Looking forward to the next installment of PennApps later this year!