Nine Projects Demo’d at Finale of Code for Tucson Event

Code for Tucson - Final Demos

Startup Tucson and Tucson Gangplank’s 30-hour coding competition created to benefit the citizens of Tucson ended Sunday afternoon after nine groups presented their projects to a gathering of some 40 participants.

The projects ranged from a better Sun Tran app to a website that helps local grocers distribute their unsold food to disadvantaged citizens.

Code for Tucson was designed to benefit local residents by helping government become more transparent and innovative.  The event brought together city employees, executives from our community’s deep non-profit sector, budding entrepreneurs and computer programmers.

“We didn’t just code code code,” said Martha Retallick, a freelance writer and designer, who worked with a group of three others to build the Sun Tran app.  “We got different perspectives.  We talked about how it would become useful to people and meet expectations.  If we were all working by ourselves this wouldn’t have happened.  That’s the power of collaborative spaces like this one.”

The app uses GPS to inform bus riders of where their bus is located while they wait for it.  It also provides a trip planner and city maps.

Abraham Hoffman came to the event on Saturday afternoon, brought two large LCDs and sat at table by himself.  By Sunday at 3pm, having slept only three hours, he had punched out an application that will help local grocers distribute their nightly stock of unused food, much of which is currently discarded for aesthetic, regulatory or distribution concerns.  Hoffman says that 40% of completely edible food is scrapped everyday.

“This code-a-thon gave me an avenue to poor my interests and abilities into,” said Hoffman a local software developer who moved to Tucson six months ago.  “What I don’t want to happen in Tucson is to see it become a consumer society and not a generative society.  Without innovation there is no growth.  If I want to improve the city I live in I have a responsibility to contribute.”

Another group focused on an app that helps willing volunteers connect with community service projects.  The app allows a citizen to take a picture of a problem like an outgrowth of buffelgrass along a sidewalk, upload it to a cloud server, and pinpoint its location via GPS.  Volunteers then can upload a picture of the completed project while onlookers can congratulate the volunteer via the comment section.

All groups received prizes at the conclusion of the event.  The winners of the sustainability prize began working on an app that provides detailed information about utility usage.  The app will detail how one’s usage compares to the national average and to homes of similar sizes in the area.  The app will also make suggestions on how you can make a small decrease in usage based on your consumption profile.

The grassroots prize went to three recipients, one of which authored a website titled Teacher Boost that allows community members to make donations to teachers.   The donations can vary from cash, to covering supplies for a teacher’s classroom, to buying a teacher lunch.

The grassroots prize also went to the group that created the Tucson Wiki.  The Wiki website focuses on hyper-local information like neighborhoods, buildings and their histories.  The group of seven was led by Code for Tucson co-organizer Justin Williams, who also is the founder of Startup Tucson.

Two City of Tucson Information Technology staff members were present and one of them worked with a volunteer to help update the city’s open API.  They were awarded the technical excellence prize.

Code for Tucson’s other organizer, Dan Stormont, a University of Arizona graduate and computer scientist who now works full-time at Gangplank on an international humanitarian project, said the event was a success.  Several groups plan to continue their civic coding on Wednesday nights at Gangplank, which is the organization’s designated time for collaborative coding.

“I think we really accomplished our objectives,” said Stormont.  “What I really wanted to do is establish a community that is passionate about civic coding.  The vision is to help connect citizens with their local government and to make our city better for all of us.”

Final Teams and Prizes:

  • My Bill, My Impact
    • Sustainability Prize / Startup Weekend admission
  • Happy Food Tucson
    • Social Equity Prize / Maker House for a year
  • Tucson Wiki
    • Grassroots Prizes / Gift Cards  (Propr)
  • Teacher Boost
    • Grassroots Prizes / Gift Cards  (Sawmill)
  • Mike / Don
    • Grassroots Prizes / Gift Cards  (Saguaro Corner)
  • TucsonAPI
    • * Technical Excellent Prize / 3-D Printing Class (for 1 team)
  • Tucson Spokes
    • Community Access Prize / Startup Tucson T-shirts
  • BusStop 1S
    • Community Access Prize / Startup Tucson T-shirts
  • Tony & Co
    •  Cultural Re-routing Prize / Code for America (mystery pack)