Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hillsborough County's first hackathon takes place April 12-14

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Months in the making, Hillsborough County's first hackathon is scheduled to take place next weekend, April 12-14, at the Hillsborough Community College Brandon campus.

The driving force behind the event is Commissioner Mark Sharpe. On Wednesday, Sharpe told his board colleagues that the event aims to get the "best and brightest together — the creative geniuses of the county" to come up with solutions that can ultimately aid county residents.

"This hackathon is getting our tech citizens engaged in working with our government," he said.

The event is open to all college students and community designers and developers.

Such marathon coding competitions have become a big deal across the country in the past couple of years, starting in high-tech areas like the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. Tampa held its first hackathon last June, and is planning its second for later this spring.

Hillsborough County's Chief Administrative Officer Helene Marks said the participants will be provided real time county information for development, but stressed that it's all non-sensitive.

"No secure information will be provided to them," she assured the County Commission.

Among the county departments providing data for the "hackers" include the property appraiser's office, animal services, public works and utilities, and HART.

County officials said their goal is to have approximately 100-125 people participate in the 48 hour event, that commences at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 12, and concludes on Sunday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. The top three teams will be awarded (more than $3,000 in prizes will be distributed).

On Wednesday, Commissioner Sharpe quoted California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom's new book, Citizenville, during a presentation about the event.

"When you take data and give it to the people and then get out of the way, they can solve all sorts or problems," he said.

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