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Posted by Katie Stefanich on March 21, 2014
Chances are you’ve seen a social media post lately on the annoyance of snowy, un-shoveled sidewalks or on navigating pot holes during heavy traffic. Now imagine if these updates about post-winter potholes and slippery sidewalks went directly to a field worker’s smart device, were logged and categorized, and enabled faster response from municipal employees.
Good thing the developers at last weekend’s Hackcelerator event created an application that does just that. From Friday to Sunday (March 14-16), teams of designers, developers, business leaders, and mentors came together at the Microsoft Digital Enterprise Hack—the first installment of the 1776 and Booz Allen Hackcelerator Series—to create the next wave of apps dedicated to improving the flow of information in an ever-digital and mobile workplace.
But this weekend’s event wasn’t just another hackathon – rather, it offered mentorship, tech vendor demos (Xamarin and Mobomo), technical testing and feedback. It was about solving practical challenges in today’s increasingly digital work environment that brought together developers, users and experts.
Designed by our Strategic Innovation Group (SIG) and 1776, The Hackcelerator Series provides teams the chance to work with developers and entrepreneurs alike, with a focus on mentorship from industry and subject experts. Throughout the series, the developers and entrepreneurs will solve contemporary challenges with the experience of an accelerator—where mentors provide real time feedback to go from idea to vetted solution —in the format of a high-paced hackathon.
1776 hosted the inaugural weekend-long event at its downtown DC headquarters, providing a laid-back, tech-ready, and collaborative space to work. With Microsoft as a partner for the first Hackcelerator event, attendees used platforms like SharePoint, Windows 8, Office 365, Azure, and Yammer as they designed their apps. The Challenge was to create an innovative solution in the digital enterprise areas of cloud, cyber, social, mobile and big data.
Six teams competed overall during the three-day event with developers from 3-1-Done creating the winning solution: an app that helps municipal field workers log and complete tasks based on 3-1-1 requests, such as repairing pot holes, shoveling sidewalks, and removing trees. The app gathers RSS and feed data, logs it, and creates a categorized check list on field workers’ smart devices. The team was made up of Andrea Schiller, Ricky Chu and Stan Reeser, with Booz Allen’s Pratik Mittal assisting in the brainstorm.
For me, the event reinforced the importance of applying diverse skillsets to solve real problems that matter. Attendees were friendly—speaking throughout the weekend about solutions, ideas, and goals. Saturday and Sunday featured mentor sessions and pitch coaching with experts from Microsoft, Booz Allen, and InfernoRed Technology so contestants could get feedback on their ideas and strengthen the presentation. It was an immersive weekend, replete with conversation and creativity. Stay tuned for details on the next Hackcelerator and how you can participate.