The San Francisco Bay Area tends to get most of the attention when it comes cleantech and technology innovation. But that’s changing. Earlier this year, The Center for an Urban Future found that New York City was just behind to Silicon Valley as a leading high-tech hub. The technology sector is growing faster in the Big Apple than anywhere else in the U.S.
The hackathon, which first came to New York earlier this year, encourages developers to apply information technology to resource constraints, primarily in the areas of water and energy efficiency, transportation and waste management. In 2012, there have been more than a dozen Cleanweb Hackathons across North America and Europe.
Teams of software engineers will be equipped with datasets and APIs, along with pizza and coffee, over 28 hours to develop novel solutions to pressing problems. The event will kick off Friday evening, September 28 at AlleyNYC, with the official hackathon taking place on Saturday, September 29.
Facebook, a new sponsor to the event, is sending its sustainability guru, Bill Weihl, to serve as one of the judges, and he will speak at the kickoff event on Friday evening. Other sponsors include Con Edison’s C&I Energy Efficiency Program, NYSERDA, Hodgson Russ LLP, Energy Visions Prize and the Carbon War Room.
The scope of the sponsors illustrates just how much IT solutions are needed to help solve the problems of limited resources, whether it’s in New York City or on the other side of the world. “From maritime shipping to energy efficiency in buildings, we are starting to see some amazing IT applications having a positive impact on the bottom line of many companies across the globe.” said Mark Grundy, Director of Communications & Network Engagement at the Carbon War Room. “We are excited to offer our market expertise in new clean technology sectors to the hackathon -- and to speed up the development of these new apps.”
While some of the solutions to energy and water are a need for more physical infrastructure -- whether that’s solar panels or efficient gas turbines or upgraded water pipes -- software applications that help people understand how much they use and then how to use less of limited resources are an important starting point. And as anyone who has ever seen an IBM commercial in the past few years knows, IT can help bring intelligence to how we use everything -- whether it's a roadway or farmland.
At January’s New York hackathon, which had more than 300 participants, the overall prize went to Econofy and their slogan, "Before you buy, Econofy." The beta website allows consumers to compare appliances by their energy efficiency ratings. "By buying the most energy-efficient products," says their description, "you can save big in the long run." There were 15 apps in total that came out of the hackathon.
During the last event, many apps made use of Green Button data, where electric utilities provide customer energy use, with customer’s approval, to third parties. Far more utilities have signed up for Green Button since January, so Green Button could be another popular access point for data. The Green Button initiative has also held a few hackathons of its own.
Data is also available from various sources, including Tendril Connect’s API, NYC OpenData, OpenEnergyInfo, Facebook’s Open Graph, The World Bank, Foursquare, Twitter and many others.
The competitors will be vying for different titles, including Best Overall App and Audience Award app. Ann Davlin, Director of Development at the Carbon War Room, Charlotte Kim, Partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, David Yeh, Senior Advisor at the Department of Energy, Maria Gotsch, President and CEO of the New York City Investment Fund and Bill Weihl will serve as judges.