City officials and Startup Atlanta, an initiative focused on entrepreneurial growth, challenged computer programmers to find creative solutions to potholes, vacant properties, parking tickets, homelessness, government transparency, and other municipal woes. In addition to boosting an already-bustling startup community, officials hope they can use techies' know-how to find new solutions to age-old problems. And, you know, modernize government.
"The goal is to bring democracy to the Internet," said Dustin Goodman, a software engineer and Georgia Tech student. In an age where technology is more readily available, he said, such programs will make it easier for people to use their voice in government, "instead of just going to a city hall meeting."
The event kicked off on Friday night as City Hall department heads and other participants pitched problems to the more than 200 attendees fueled by pizza, candy, sodas, and granola bars. After a brief meet-and-greet that paired problems with programmers and designers, the teams broke out into groups to solve the city's problems. Less than 15 hours later, they pitched 18 presentations of possible fixes to a panel of judges that included city officials, nonprofit leaders, and tech executives. The jurors included Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, Blake Patton of the Advanced Technology Development Center, Paul Judge of Barracuda Networks, Cinda Herndon-King of United Way Atlanta, and Michelle Morgan of The Hub.
Crime Syndicate, a phone app that allows people to access crime and incident reports from the Atlanta Police, took first place at the event. Programmers Jeff Lett and John McSwain used the APD's process for pulling up incident reports and wrote a code to create a PDF file of the document. Additional features, such as mapping crimes by type and neighborhood, were brainstormed overnight.
Police Chief George Turner and the city's Department of Information Technology will now review the proposal. The Atlanta City Council would have to give its OK before it could be implemented.
"It just takes a lot of time to vet that kind of technology," said Spillane. "It's a process."
Park Find, an app that allows users to filter Atlanta's 352 parks by specific amenities such as athletics facilities, playgrounds, and whether or not they're dog friendly, earned second place. Drew Pak, one of the app's developers, said the team is talking with parks officials about making the site live in the near future. Curbb, an app that allows people to pay parking meters with their phones (and warns them when the meter's running low), placed third.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Kasim Reed says subsequent Govathons are in the works and are scheduled for each quarter.
* 1st place - Crime Syndicate: Web-based and phone application with the ability to obtain police incident reports, report crime, etc.
Team members: John McSwain (developer), Jeff Lett (developer), and Eric DeCoff (support).
* 2nd place - Park Find: Web-based application designed to filter parks by desired resources and amenities.
Team members: Patrick Stoica (developer), Rob Fine (developer), Kyle Petrovich (developer), Kevin Coleman (developer), Kate Godwin (designer), and Drew Pak (designer).
* 3rd place - Curbb: Phone based application designed to pay parking meters and alert you when time is running out.
Team members: Christopher Walker (developer), David Hillman (developer), Firaz Peer (developer), Ilena Banks (content creator), Laura Mitchel (logistics), M. Cole Jones (concept creator), Randy Mitchell (developer), Rich Griffis (designer), and Shane Matthews (facilitator).
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